Sokolows and Arent Fox go their separate ways

PARISIAN practice Sokolow, Dunaud, Mercadier & Carreras has terminated its association with US firm Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn, less than a year after the two joined to provide a Franco-American legal service.

Jean-Francois Carreras, who had worked as a partner in both firms, left the New York office of the Washington DC practice in September. He remains as the sole US partner of Sokolows.

The association between the two firms began last year when the Sokolows' team emerged out of a split between the partnership of Coudert Freres.

At the time it was hoped Arent Fox could expand its international coverage, while the new firm was looking for a US anchor for Carreras.

But founding partner Nicolas Sokolow said that although his practice had hoped the contractual arrangement would become more formal, the view of the Arent Fox hierarchy was different.

“This was a relationship that was fairly informal but challenging and one which could lead to something more organised later on,” said Sokolow.

“But for a variety of reasons they could not see us becoming closer in the future. They decided that maybe the first step did not really need to be taken any further.”

Sokolow confirmed Carreras had sub-let space in the office of another firm, but said there were currently no links between Sokolows and the unnamed practice.

“I think we will always look to establish good working relationships with firms, and obviously we will put an emphasis on one firm rather than another one.”

“However, at this stage we do not have a contractual relationship with any specific firm,” he said

“We are able to work with many people who are very happy to establish an informal relationship with a new practice which is small, flexible and cost-controlled.”

He said Sokolows, which is considering establishing itself in Russia, would now work at stabilising its current team, which includes new partner, corporate governance specialist Francoise Monod.

Monod, who moved over from Lussan Brouilland last month, has worked in the past for US-based firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and Paris practice Stibbe Simont Monahan Duhot.

“I think we've got a solid team,” said Sokolow. “I can't say that at some point in time one of the members in the group is not going to want to try something else. But the fact that we have gone through all the hard times together this year is indicative of our faith in each other.”

Arent Fox declined to comment on the split.