a year ago this week

Ashurst Morris Crisp announced its intention to open a New York office within the month. The office, which provides UK law advice, was launched after Ashursts called in the services of management consultancy Hildebrandt International to find a suitable firm with which to merge in the US.

Then, in February this year, the firm entered into talks with US firm Latham & Watkins. However, these collapsed in June, with one source claiming that the talks fell through because Ashursts was not willing to be taken over by another firm.

Ashursts’ then managing partner Ian Nisse said at the time: “What [Lathams does] works great in the US, but not in the UK. Unless that is understood and appreciated by all the partners, it could create a problem.”

The US office continues to be headed by corporate partner Alastair MacPherson with support from senior corporate associate Anthony Clare, but it has not expanded since its launch.

Berrymans Lace Mawer and Trowers target Iran

Berrymans Lace Mawer and Trowers & Hamlins were both in talks with Iranian firms in a bid to establish a foothold in the Middle East state. Berrymans approached three Tehran-based firms – Dr Behrooz Akhlaghi & Associates, Torossian Avanessian & Associates and Dr Dashtara & Associates.

Meanwhile, Trowers was looking for a local presence by way of association with “at least” one firm.

Although Trowers has not made any formal association, it does now have strong links with Dr Behrooz Akhlaghi & Associates, which could be formalised in the future. Trowers’ head of international Martin Amison says the firm is now “generating significant fees out of project work in Iran”.

The informal association strengthens Trowers’ capability in the region, with Amison claiming that all the firm’s Middle Eastern offices in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Dubai, Bahrain and Cairo (which was launched less than a year ago) are currently working flat out, with high oil prices creating confidence in the region.

However, it is understood that Berrymans’ attempts to break into the region have been put on hold, after the head of its Dubai office Jason Blick left in May for an in-house post at Sun Microsystems. He was the second head to leave after previous incumbent Nigel Truscott departed for Denton Wilde Sapte a year earlier.