CLA Europe member set for merger

Commercial Law Affiliates (CLA) Europe member Wenger & Vieli is merging with fellow Swiss practice Belser Altorfer & Partner.

From 1 September the newly-created firm will be called Wenger Vieli Belser. It will concentrate on corporate and commercial work, although it will also develop an e-commerce and IT practice.

The move comes as European member firms of the US-based CLA referral network form a 15-strong alliance, CLA Europe.

The alliance will create a 1,250-lawyer group. Under a common branding and marketing strategy, currently being devised by Ogilvy & Mather, the firms will deal directly with each other's clients.

John Heller, Hammond Suddards senior partner and CLA Europe management committee member, rules out a full merger between alliance members. But he confirms that the alliance intends to grow. “As the Eastern European countries expand, we hope to have representation there.”

Following the formation of CLA Europe, it is expected that Edge Ellison will leave its European referral body, the International Lawyers' Network, despite only recently joining.