Morgan Lewis set to open Paris office with De Pardieu capture

US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius is set to launch in Paris with a team from French independent De Pardieu Brocas Maffei & Leygonie.

European Community (EC) competition partner and former name partner Jean Leygonie leaves De Pardieu with most of the team that joined the firm from Moquet Borde & Associés five years ago.

“Jean Leygonie is a name partner – as such it is an event, but conversely it has no significance on the development of the firm,” De Pardieu managing partner Charles-Henri De Pardieu told The Lawyer.

Leygonie announced his intention to leave the firm in January along with partner Anne Tolila, who will also join Morgan Lewis, but his destination was undecided.

The Lawyer understands that London managing partner Peter Wallace has been influential in the deal to bring Leygonie and his team in. Wallace has been on something of a hiring spree of late. The French deal follows the recruitment in London of corporate associate Keith Black from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy last week.

Morgan Lewis has to clear its arrival in France with the French bar before it can announce the launch. A firm spokesperson declined the opportunity to comment.

Leygonie, a former general counsel of Pechiney, is known as a competition lawyer, but is thought to be keen to expand his repertoire to a more general M&A and corporate practice.

De Pardieu has been swift to fill the gap by taking Norton Rose associate Philippe Guibert, who was left in limbo after deciding not to join former Norton Rose boss Jean-Patrice de la Laurencie at White & Case (see Norton Rose suffers more leakage in Paris reshuffle). Guibert joins De Pardieu as a partner and head of the EC competition group.

“There’s a time for fresh blood and fresh blood is coming,” said De Pardieu, making the point that he is keen not to fall into the trap suffered by many French independents, where young talent can often feel hindered by a glass ceiling.