Freshfields' Dutch office steps up poaching spree

Freshfields is continuing its aggressive expansion in The Netherlands by poaching two more partners – this time from Allen & Overy's proposed Dutch merger firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke.

Top corporate lawyer Jan Willem van der Staay and leading intellectual property litigator Hubert Harmeling are expected to join Freshfields' Amsterdam office once they have negotiated departure arrangements with the Loeff partnership.

The defections will be a blow to A&O, whose partners have already agreed, in principle, to merge with the Benelux firm. Loeff has been split into three as a result of the merger. The bulk of the practice decided to merge with A&O, while its tax specialists joined rival Loyens & Volkmaars and its Belgian practice voted to remain independent.

Dorph Stuyling de Lange, Loeff's general secretary, says: “On the one hand we regret their decision, and on the other we wish them all sorts of success in their new endeavour. There is sufficient space for us and Freshfields to operate in the market.”

Alan Peck, Freshfields chief executive, says: “This is a further demonstration of our determination to build a top quality Dutch operation and marks an important step forwards in the development of our pan-European M&A and IP practices.”

M&A and securities specialist van der Staay will join a team working on the development of Freshfields' Dutch and pan-European M&A practice from Amsterdam. He will be joining Steven Perrick, a former partner at Linklaters & Alliance firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, and Richard Norbruis, poached from Nauta Dutilh's New York office in July.

IP specialist Harmeling will also be developing Freshfields' European practice, working with former Stibbe Simont Monahan Duhot partner Peter Hendrick.

Peck says: “There are still one or two more people we'd like to target. The office has grown to around 30 lawyers, and is swamped with work.”

The latest increase brings the number of partners at the Amsterdam office, which opened in May, to nine.

A Freshfields source says: “We have caused quite a stir by taking recognised stars but we have been quite even about it.”