US firm takes on R&W's Paris office

Rogers & Wells' Paris office merges today (Monday) with New York firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel because it does not want to be “an appendage” to Clifford Chance's merged monolith.

Paris managing partner Alexander Marquardt's 21-strong team becomes Kramer Levin's first office outside Manhattan.

Marquardt, in his first interview since rumours spread of the Paris office's desire to go it alone, tells The Lawyer he had talks with “about a dozen” firms interested in acquiring his office.

On his reasons for choosing the 250 lawyer US firm he says: “They are entrepreneurial lawyers with excellent capacity in New York, which is what we need. And they are open-minded and aren't going to bore us with their pur suits. We will develop the international strategy with them.”

Unlike Rogers & Wells' other foreign practices, Marquardt's office practices domestic law and was a separate profit centre from the rest of the firm. The office's independence was a sticking point with some firms who approached Marquardt. It is understood the firms included Latham & Watkins and Morgan Lewis & Bockius. (The Lawyer, 14 June)

Marquardt would not go into details about the arrangements he has with Kramer Levin or its head Scott Rosenblum except to say: “We are going to be part of Kramer Levin the way we were part of Rogers & Wells.”

As revealed in The Lawyer (28 June), Rogers & Wells served notice on the Paris office to ensure their separation by the time the US firm merges with Clifford Chance on 1 January.

But Marquardt adds: “I have a very high regard for the lawyers at Rogers & Wells and as far as I can tell they have a high regard for us.”

Marquardt says Kramer Levin will be looking at other international offices.