Salans beats rivals to Paris IT boutique

International firm Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn has beaten French and UK rivals in the race to sign up respected 13-lawyer Paris-based IT boutique, FG Associes.

FG's three partners – Christiane Feral-Schuhl, Marc d'Haultfoeuille and Bruno Gregoire Sainte Marie – will head a new IT, Internet and multimedia practice at Salans and add to the firm's existing expertise in telecoms.

FG Associes partner Christiane Feral-Schuhl said the 10-year-old firm valued its “entrepreneurial spirit”, but client demand for competence in a full range of services, from competition to EC law, had driven it to seek a merger.

Feral-Schuhl said: “We are one of the few law firms to specialise in high-tech in France. It was a difficult decision to make – as lawyers we value our autonomy.”

She added that several English firms and larger French firms had approached FG before the firm opted for Salans.

Established for 20 years, Salans has been expanding aggressively. In January, its existing eight-lawyer London office merged with 50-lawyer Holborn-practice Harris Rosenblatt & Kramer.

The move was highly unusual as continental firms, unlike their US counterparts, have traditionally been averse to the idea of practising English law.

Since then, the London office has grown by a third through lateral hires, primarily in its corporate, banking and employment practices.

But the firm remains misunderstood by many of its competitors. It is thought of as a firm with small offices in the UK and France and satellite offices elsewhere.

In fact, it has over 270 lawyers and eight international offices.

Paris-based corporate partner Francois Vignaud admitted the firm has a relatively low profile in France.

“We do not volunteer very much communication in the Paris market,” he said. “We really don't feel we need to.”