California dreaming

LG misses out on US presence as one-time merger prospect FFW opens in Palo Alto

You have to feel a bit of sympathy for Lawrence Graham (LG). Had it gone ahead with its aborted merger with Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), it would now boast a presence of sorts not just in Europe, Singapore, Dubai and Brazil, thanks to its recent association with Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro firm Motta Fernandes Rocha – Advogados, but also in the US. The diamond of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and both ends of the Americas would have made LG into a pretty well covered international firm.

Sadly for LG, only FFW can say it has a US office, following the launch of its Palo Alto base, as revealed today on

FFW’s move, voted on by the partnership in May, before the LG talks had been called off, is a logical step for a firm with a clear focus on the technology, media and telecommunications sector, all the more so since it removed its other main focus, the public sector, from its list of formal industry groups.

The firm is essentially mimicking the strategy of TMT rival Osborne Clarke, which has been in Silicon Valley since 2000. The representative office, like Osborne Clarke’s, will be a shop window for potential clients and a relationship-nurturing base for existing ones.

Osborne Clarke has benefited from its strategy of ensuring Silicon Valley technology businesses looking to invest in Europe are clients before they get on the plane. FFW will try to do the same; it does not have Osborne Clarke’s corporate reputation, but instead is also looking to win less transactional work such as IP instructions from Valley institutions.

But having a flag in both halves of the Americas – now that really would have been a selling point.