The Lawyer revealed that Linklaters & Alliance was opening three offices in Central and Eastern Europe. The offices, in Bucharest, Bratislava and Budapest, launched on 1 January this year and were staffed by one partner each, with up to 10 assistants. A number of lateral hires staffed the new offices, including the finance practice head of Clifford Chance's Budapest operation Csaba Berecz.
All three offices are already running at a profit and above expectations. Budapest now has 20 lawyers, Bucharest 15 and Bratislava 14; and with alliances in Warsaw and Prague and a Russian practice, Linklaters has 150 lawyers across Central and Eastern Europe. However, the managing partner for those regions Nick Eastwell says that despite such growth the offices are all "resource constrained" and that the firm is actively trying to recruit.
Last year Eastwell said the plan was to open in Bulgaria and Croatia. One year on and the strategy remains the same. Eastwell says the firm has strong correspondent relationships in both jurisdictions and the Bucharest office is doing a lot of the work coming out of the Balkans.
Chambers merge to make 73-strong set
Two of London's leading chambers, 1 Paper Buildings and 2 Crown Office Row, announced their intention to merge. The new set, Crown Office Chambers, instantly became one of the biggest in the country with 73 tenants, including 15 silks.
A year later, and although the set lost senior tenants Dr Michael Powers QC and Dr Evelyn Pollock straight after the merger announcement, there have been no more losses.
According to joint head of chambers Christopher Purchas QC, turnover is up and the enhanced capability has been well received by clients, particularly insurers. This is useful, given the trend among insurers to develop panels of chambers.
Since the merger announcement the bar has seen an unprecedented spate of activity. Just two weeks after The Lawyer revealed the creation of Crown Office Chambers, One Hare Court and Serle Court announced their merger, followed this year by 1 and 12 New Square, and 13 Old Square (Michael Lyndon-Stanford QC) and 7 Stone Buildings (Charles Aldous QC). 4-5 Gray's Inn Square and Monckton Chambers came close to marrying but talks collapsed, while Cloisters split its civil and criminal teams, and George Carman QC's New Court Chambers dissolved.