Conquering Europe

Over the last few years US firms have stormed into Europe with a host of mergers and lateral hires. Nicola Smith reports on what they've been up to this year, both at home and away

Shearman & Sterling in Germany strengthened its position in Asia by taking on high-profile corporate partner Andreas Diem, who has strong ties with China. Diem joined the Munich office from the Stuttgart office of rival firm Gleiss Lutz in March.
In May, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood ramped up its international trade practice and boosted its presence in Europe by luring a 10-partner group from Geneva-based Powell Goldstein Frazer & Murphy. The group is led by Daniel Price and specialises in international trade law, dispute resolution and policy.
Fulbright & Jaworski launched a Munich office in April in a bid to extend its European reach. The team comprises corporate partner Craig Redinger from Washington DC, corporate and securities partner Robert Wilson and London-based counsel Michael Walker. This is the firm's first venture into the Continent and marks a new period of international development.
Following Howrey Simon Arnold & White's Brussels launch last year, in June the firm took on key Norton Rose competition partner Trevor Soames to head the office. This month, Soames was joined by head of the unit for financial services at the Competition Directorate-General David Wood. The move boosts Howrey's investigative antitrust capability.
This month, Baker & McKenzie pulled off a merger with a two-partner public law boutique in Madrid. The firm's name partner Jose Antonio García-Trevijano will join Baker & McKenzie as an international partner. The merger comes on the back of Baker & McKenzie's worldwide strategy to develop projects, energy and public law.

US firms freeze salary war
In March, the top US firms in London called a truce with their City rivals over assistant pay by freezing salaries at 2001 levels. Rather than increasing the bands, many of the leading firms moved their assistants up to the next band. The move was welcomed by City firms that were desperate to avoid a salary war.
Weil Gotshal's German desk defects to Dewey Ballantine
Weil Gotshal & Manges lost its German desk in London when corporate partner Geza Toth and a team of four associates moved to the London office of US firm Dewey Ballantine. Toth will set up an office in Frankfurt within the next few months, giving Dewey its first presence in Germany.
Cleary wins UK tax partner from Linklaters
In JULY, the London office of leading US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton lured UK-qualified tax partner Nikhil Mehta from Linklaters, in an attempt to build a UK tax practice. Mehta said: “Cleary is a smaller firm [in London] so it is a bit of a start-up opportunity. I'm moving from a mature practice and will enjoy the excitement of developing something and seeing where it goes.” Mehta's departure leaves Linklaters with a London tax team of 12 partners.
Cadwalader takes on Mostyn-Williams to head banking group
US firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft hired high-profile banking lawyer Stephen Mostyn-Williams in March to head its London international banking and finance practice. Mostyn-Williams came from Landwell, where he was the business development director. His new challenge was to expand the firm's banking and finance practice in the UK and US and build a leveraged finance practice in Europe.
Shearman chooses UK partner for London head
Head of Shearman & Sterling's UK law practice Kenneth MacRitchie was appointed as the firm's managing partner in London in April. This was the first time a UK-qualified partner had taken over the helm. The decision sent a signal to the market that Shearman was committed to practising local law.

Watson Farley's Paris team to join Orrick
The biggest news to hit Europe was that Watson Farley & Williams' Paris office had resigned and was set to join Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe after a notice period of nine months. The March announcement saw the City firm lose its French presence and a number of key corporate clients. It gave the 204-partner Californian firm its first office in Continental Europe. The team was led by Watson Farley's Paris managing partner David Syed.
US encroaches on Italian turf
US firms stepped up their expansion into Italy. In April, Baker & McKenzie took over nine-lawyer Bernini e Ass-ociati in Bologna to launch the firm's third Italian office. Meanwhile, Squire Sanders & Dempsey hired partner Emanuele Alemagna from local boutique Montanari & Associati for its Milan office. Alemagna is a specialist in corporate and project finance, and became the fifth partner in the Cleveland-based firm's Milan office.
Latham launches second Italian office
Latham & Watkins set up its second office in Italy, opening in Milan in June. However, this smart move for Continental expansion was off-set in London by the loss of acquisition finance partner Kevin Dunn, who left for GE Capital.

US/European mergers

Shook Hardy and Arnander Irvine tie the knot
US litigation giant Shook Hardy & Bacon merged with London litigation specialist Arnander Irvine & Zietman at the beginning of the month to form a transatlantic practice focused solely on contentious work. The marriage will take the combined capacity to 17 partners and 35 other fee-earners. All 10 Arnander Irvine partners will join Shook Hardy's London multinational partnership, which will in turn become a limited liability partnership.
Jones & Warner link-up boosts MoFo's UK team
June saw Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) hoist up its UK law capability by merging with London employment boutique Jones & Warner. Jones & Warner was incorporated into MoFo, with David Warner as partner and Ann Bevitt and Simeon Spencer as of counsel. Warner came to the firm's attention when he handled MoFo partner David Naylor's move from Weil Gotshal & Manges.
Merger gives Willkie Farr Brussels presence
New York firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher opened a Brussels office in March following the merger with Belgian corporate boutique Dieux & Associés. Willkie Farr's expansion into Belgium was driven primarily by the chance to capture Dieux & Associés name partner and M&A star Xavier Dieux. Dieux is now a partner at Willkie Farr.