As reported on the front page of this week's The Lawyer Simmons & Simmons just lost its entire office in Tokyo, which is pretty drastic. Although Simmons is making out its not terribly bothered, the Lovells raid has made it look slightly more fragile abroad than it would like.
As reported on the front page of this week's The Lawyer, Simmons & Simmons just lost its entire office in Tokyo, which is pretty drastic. Although Simmons is making out its not terribly bothered, the Lovells raid has made it look slightly more fragile abroad than it would like.
Simmons kicked off a review of some of its international operations over a year ago. Managing partner Mark Dawkins analysis of what his firm can afford to do internationally has seen it downscale its US and Portuguese ambitions, for example. In Japan, Simmons decided that it would be best served by its alliance with top Tokyo firm TMI Associates. That sounds like Simmons just doesnt want to pour any more money into the Japanese market. But to put all your eggs in an alliance makes you rather vulnerable the overseas firm can easily change its mind walk out, as numerous firms from Linklaters to Pinsents can testify.
The battle between the international firms below the magic circle Simmons, Lovells, Denton Wilde Sapte, Norton Rose is hotting up. In both Continental Europe - particularly Italy and the Middle East there is so much tit-for-tat hiring its starting to look like a West End farce.
But unlike Lovells, Simmons doesnt have a global practice area like intellectual property to act as a Trojan horse in key overseas jurisdictions. Its international business is entirely based on corporate and finance, so it will always struggle against the better-resourced magic circle firms.
Thats why Simmons new tack in China is significant. Having been comprehensively raided two years ago by New York firm Fried Frank for its stock market flotation team in Hong Kong, Simmons had to move away from equity capital markets out of necessity. The fact that it is looking to build Beijing via life sciences is a tacit acknowledgement of this change in the air. All international firms outside the magic circle need another string to their bow.