Stibbe partner seeks new challenge in wake of collapse of Herbert Smith alliance

The Stibbe partner who was in charge of managing Herbert Smith’s international alliance before it disbanded in 2011 is leaving the firm to establish a boutique.

Stibbe partner Olivier Clevenbergh, who was the secretary general in charge of the alliance between Herbert Smith, German firm Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe, told The Lawyer that he expected to launch his new firm, which will focus on corporate and litigation work, between September and December this year.

He added that he was keen to seek a new challenge following the dissolution of the Herbert Smith alliance at the end of 2011 (22 December 2011).

“If I was still secretary general [of the alliance] then I would not be leaving Stibbe,” said Clevenbergh. “But I’m not leaving on bad terms, it’s just a natural evolution. I was managing partner of Stibbe and then I saw a nice opportunity to be the secretary general, and now I’m trying to find a new challenge.”

Clevenbergh’s new firm will focus on corporate work and litigation and the interplay between the two in the Belgian market.

“I think clients will be interested in having in the Belgian market something new,” he said. “I really want to combine corporate work with litigation. In Belgium litigation is not as specialised as it is in the UK so there’s added value in being able to offer clients both services – we can negotiate the deal and then litigate afterwards if it goes wrong.”

Clevenbergh added: “The distinction between corporate and litigation work is getting smaller and smaller. The way many takeovers are done at the moment is through reorganisations, which involves going through the courts. And, unfortunately, there will be many more reorganisations.”

Clevenbergh said that he did not expect to take any partners from Stibbe when he establishes his new firm, but did not rule out bringing associates with him. He said that he was in talks with a handful of partners from other firms about joining him, but could not say who they were or what firms they were from.

Clevenbergh specialises in M&A, advising corporate clients, investment banks and private equity funds, but also litigates on the same kind of issues. He was managing partner of Stibbe’s Brussels offices between 2005 and 2011.