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Last year Shearman & Sterling sent New York M&A partner Creighton Condon to London to lead the firm’s European network.
Until now Condon’s main focus seems to have been relocating London partners to Abu Dhabi, where workflow has remained reasonably strong for the firm.
But last week the New York-headquartered firm set to work rebuilding its Brussels office after defections last month left it without any partners.
Shearman relocated Düsseldorf partner Hans Meyer-Lindemann to the office after competition partners Annette Schild and Silvio Cappellari defected to US firm Arnold & Porter, taking counsel Stephanie Birmann with them.
Meyer-Lindemann has begun dividing his time between Germany and Belgium, but having no permanent competition presence in Brussels is clearly an issue for the firm, especially as the firm’s presence in Brussels is already viewed as being weak.
“For quite a while people have been wondering whether Brussels would survive,” says one former Brussels-based Shearman partner. “It’s definitely struggled somewhat over the years.”
Meyer-Lindemann will now head the office, which he has started to build up by Meyer-Lindemann taking three competition associates with him from Düsseldorf.
The fact that Meyer-Lindemann helped launch the Brussels office in 2001 should help him see through the firm’s plan to beef up the office.
“He knows the market and the office very well,” says Shearman senior partner Rohan Weerasinghe. “We’re still very much committed to building up the Brussels office.”
Global competition and antitrust has been a target for Shearman, which has more than 50 lawyers focusing on the area throughout its international network.
Maintaining healthy European capabilities is important to the firm.
“There are definitely plans to recruit further into the Brussels office,” says Weerasinghe. “We can’t say any more on that at the moment because we’re still at the early stages, but there are definitely plans to hire more into the office.”
However, with competition playing an ever-more crucial role in European transactions, it will take more than one partner to make the office pivotal to the firm’s European strategy.
At least having Meyer-Lindemann in Brussels should make Weerasinghe’s expansionist plans slightly easier to set in motion.