Pair of Freshfields Paris lawyers break away to set up boutique

A duo of associates from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Paris office have left the firm to set up their own financial regulatory boutique.

Jean-Baptiste Poulle and Nicolas Spitz are currently the only lawyers at the two-partner firm, Spitz & Poulle, launched earlier this month. The pair previously worked together for five years in Freshfields’ French finance practice.

Poulle said he and Spitz had identified a need for a dedicated financial regulatory law firm in the French market. Regulatory law is commonly handled as part of a larger firm’s corporate or finance practice.

He added that regulatory advice could be dealt with well in a small, flexible firm.

“We don’t want to be a big law firm, we want to keep our fees as low as possible to be competitive,” Poulle said.

However, he added that he and Spitz were currently looking to add litigation to the firm’s offering.

Poulle said Spitz & Poulle’s client base would be predominantly boutique financial institutions, such as portfolio management companies, although he thought the firm would also be able to advise large credit institutions and banks.

Boutique firms are popular in Europe, particularly France and Germany, at the moment as a number of lawyers from large firms reject the corporate model. In January Allen & Overy’s Paris corporate head Nicolas Bichot quit the firm to set up his own practice, while five associates from blue-chip independent Bredin Prat also launched their own firm (17 January 2011).

Ashurst’s former Paris managing partner Frédéric Pinet also recently chose the boutique model over internationalisation, shifting to independent firm Desfilis & McGowan in July to build up the firm’s private equity practice.