Herbies aims for emerging markets by homing in on private client

Herbert Smith is upping its emphasis on private client work as part of a strategic push into emerging markets.

The firm is looking to beef up its private client capabilities with the addition of a number of London-based lawyers who have specific expertise in Asia, Russia and the Middle East.

“This is in line with our strategy,” explained a spokesperson. “It’s principally driven by international demand [and] a strong network of relationships with senior individuals who we’re already advising on the corporate side, as owners of their businesses.”

The silver circle firm hopes to double the proportion of revenue that comes from overseas to 50 per cent by 2015. But many rivals with much larger global networks have already exited private client work. Last year Allen & Overy spun off its practice.

A source close to the firm was doubtful of the success of the move, saying: “I think the strategy’s flawed. Herbert Smith may pay well, but despite working with the rich, private client lawyers aren’t driven by money, but by being important to their firms. Private client is never going to be important to Herbert Smith.”