Howrey drafts in top-notch antitrust team from CC to boost Paris offering

Competition partner Claude Lazarus, who moved to Clifford Chance from Herbert Smith in 2002, will join Howrey at the beginning of November to launch the firm’s Paris antitrust practice. He brings with him counsel Audrey Amsellem, who joins the US firm as a partner, and a team of four associates.

According to Trevor Soames, co-chair of How­rey’s antitrust practice and head of its European competition practice, the arrival of the team will enhance the firm’s ­European presence.

“Claude’s a massive ­business developer and he’s fantastic at getting business,” he said. “We know that he’ll be able to transplant this into Howrey. He’s an incredibly driven lawyer and I know he has the ­ability to open many opportunities for the firm.”

The expectation is that, from the off, the team will bring a book of business with it.

“The new team in Paris will be working with major clients such as Électricité de France and British Energy. They’ll be doing work internationally as well as French antitrust and federal work,” Soames added.

Lazarus’s contacts within the legal community should also prove beneficial: while he was at Clifford Chance the magic circle firm scored a coup when it hired the European Commission’s top legal official Michel Petite thanks to Lazarus’s relationship with him.

Traditionally Howrey has focused on three key practice areas – antitrust, global litigation and IP. When it opened in Paris in 2005, the firm initially focused on IP following the hire of one of France’s ­leading IP lawyers, Marina Couste.

Two years later it added disputes capability with the hire of Jean de Hauteclocque from his own firm, Hauteclocque-­Larroumet-Tessler.

According to Howrey chairman and chief executive Robert Ruyak, the addition of an antitrust practice was the next logical step.

“We’re well established in Paris with premier IP and dispute resolution practices,” he said. “As an integrated part of our European competition team, they [Lazarus and Amsellem] will create our French antitrust ­practice.”

Lazarus’s practice focuses on all aspects of French and European competition law, anti-competitive practices, restrictive practices, merger control, state aid and ­deregulation.

Amsellem, meanwhile, will focus on the broader aspects of competition law in litigation and arbitration procedures and merger control matters, with a ­special focus on the energy ­sector.

Speaking about his decision to join the firm, Lazarus said: “Antitrust law is one of Howrey’s premier practice areas and the firm’s ­reputation in this area is exceptional. Joining Howrey means we’ll be able to offer our clients, as well as Howrey, the highest level of expertise on the most ­complex matters.”