No one is sure exactly when Dutch firm Boekel De Nerée was set up.
The legal profession was very different in the Netherlands more than a century ago: people could supplement their income with a bit of part-time lawyering, so it is unclear when the firm was officially established. The best guess is 130 years ago, with a margin of error of one or two years.
But in spite of the haze surrounding its origins, Boekel De Nerée is meticulous when it comes to the future. Since a strategic review in August 2008 the firm has restructured and refocused, shedding seven partners and narrowing its core practice areas.
“We only do three things,” states board member and head of corporate Ferdinand Mason (pictured above). “Corporate finance, real estate transactions and human capital [employment].”
It was pure luck that the firm’s strategic review took place just before the downturn hit and that the decisions reached were to streamline. The changes have paid off, with Boekel De Nerée being one of just five Dutch firms to grow in profit in 2009, with a 35 per cent hike. The firm is now focused on growing internationally. It has one office, in the business centre of Amsterdam, but is looking to establish relationships with firms on the continent, although only as far as its clients require – it has no desire to chase referrals.
“The big difference between us and other Dutch firms is that we have a client-based practice,” says Mason. “We don’t do boat shows at the International Bar Association or visits to law firms. We don’t want to have a referral mindset.”
The other big difference between Boekel De Nerée and other firms is its diversity. It has a female managing partner and 40 per cent of its partners are female. The firm seems to have come a long way since its beginnings – whenever they were.
Managing partner:Hester Uhlenbroek
Turnover: €47m (£41.41m)
Number of partners:28
Number of equity partners:24
Number of lawyers:170
Number of fee-earners:170
Number of offices:One
Main practice areas:Corporate/M&A, real estate, banking and finance, EU and competition, employment, commercial and litigation, insolvency, corporate criminal law
Clients: UBS, Goldman Sachs,Thomson Reuters, Merck, Capita Group