Bird & Bird Brussels media team quits for French rival

Bird & Bird is losing the two founding partners of its Brussels office and its entire Brussels media team

Agnes Maqua and Jean Paul Hordies are defecting with six assistants to set up a Brussels office for French corporate and media firm Sokolow Dunaud Mercadier & Carreras (SDMC).
The pair, both equity partners, are taking all their clients with them. They said that in the last financial year their practice accounted for 45 per cent of Bird & Bird Brussels' e5m (£3.2m) turnover.
Maqua and Hordies cite “irreconcilable differences” with the media and competition practice in London as the reason for their move. Both lawyers mostly act for French broadcasters on regulatory matters.
Bird & Bird will be left with 32 lawyers in Brussels, including five partners.
“There are irreconcilable differences in the way that our practice has developed compared to London,” Hordies told The Lawyer.
Bird & Bird's Brussels managing partner Paul Hermant agreed. “They didn't have much work in common with the London office,” he said of Maqua and Hordies.
He added: “They do mainly regulatory work for French media companies who have commercial interests in Belgium. The rest of the firm is more international and focuses on commercial work for media companies. The two practices could have been more compatible.”
Maqua and Hordies joined Bird & Bird from mid-sized Belgian firm De Backer in 1999 to set up the London firm's Brussels office. The two were also instrumental in setting up Bird & Bird's office in Paris, which started life with a group of De Backer associates.
Maqua and Hordies are both highly-rated media practitioners and have a number of clients in common with SDMC, including Eurosport and TF1.
SDMC is a mid-sized firm that is rated for its corporate and media work. It has 40 lawyers in Paris and 25 in New York.
On the media side, the firm is very active in cable and satellite work for clients such as AOL Time Warner and CNN. In corporate, SDMC specialises in advising start-up companies.