Cameron McKenna's European alliance has been thrown into confusion after a massive shake-up in the Danish legal market.
Dragsted Schluter Helmer Nielsen has merged with Aros Advokater to form Dragsted Schluter Aros. The merger creates the largest law firm in Denmark with more than 160 lawyers, including 55 partners.
Cameron McKenna's al-liance was launched in the spring with tie-ups announced with Dutch, Danish, Austrian, German and Norwegian firms. But its Danish member Schluter & Hald then merged with Dragsted & Helmer Nielsen, which has its own tie-up with the World Law Group.
The latest merger will create further speculation regarding CMS' Danish member.
While the other European firms in the CMS network are all mid-ranking, the new Danish outfit is easily the biggest hitter in its domestic market and may have its eye on firms bigger than Cameron McKenna with which to form an alliance.
Dick Taylor, CMS chairman, says the Danes are still considering whether or not to become full members of the network. It is still uncertain whether last week's merger will delay the decision until after the new year.
Taylor says: “It's quite an exciting development, wonderful, a terrific opportunity… the bigger the better.”
But a Danish source points out that the increased critical mass will put the giant firm in a better position to negotiate future alliances – including ones outside the CMS network.
Taylor admits the merger has implications for the dynamics within CMS.
He says: “It's not as if we had planned to have an English [dominated] partnership. It's almost a theoretical point. We meant to form a network which was not identified with any particular country.”
He says the merger with a firm in the provincial town Aarhus is an “interesting development”.
Aros Advokater is the largest firm outside Copenhagen. Taylor says Aarhus, the home of Lego-land, in Jutland is an important commercial centre.
Steffen Ebdrup, Aarhus partner at the new firm, says: “We intend to maintain the typically Danish down-to-earth and friendly attitude.
“By this merger we ensure that we will become even better at safeguarding our clients' interests with the integrity and independence which is to characterise the legal adviser now and in future.”