Simmons declares European intent with Spanish merger

Simmons & Simmons will merge with Spanish firm Mochales & Palacios Abogados to complete the first step in an ambitious European growth strategy it has set out for 2007.

Simmons will parachute in global head of international projects Richard Armitage as the new regional managing partner to bolster integration efforts. Current Spain head Luis Felipe Castresana will stay on at the firm.

Managing partner Mark Dawkins told The Lawyer: “We were just too small and needed to grow in order to give us deal visibility.”

Simmons’ most pressing plan for 2007 was to double its lawyer counts in Spain and Germany.

The merger with Madrid-based Mochales puts it ahead of schedule, bringing in four new partners and eight associates into Simmons’ Spanish operation and bumping headcount up from 15 to 27 in Madrid.

Dawkins said: “This is hopefully not the end of the story. We’d like to see more incremental growth in Spain over the next two years.”

Armitage is the second global head that Simmons has posted overseas. Head of corporate Damon Le Maitre-George was sent to Hong Kong at Christmas not only to manage fallout from high-level departures, but also as a symbolic gesture to show how important the region is to Simmons.

“I do think that it’s good for an international firm to have international heads outside of the UK,” said Dawkins. “Half our revenues now are generated outside London.”