Simmons & Simmons is further reducing its global network by splitting with its two Portuguese offices.
Simmons & Simmons Rebelo de Sousa, which has five partners and around 70 fee-earners, will continue as an alliance partner, but will no longer be part of the firm.
The move follows last month’s decision to close in Rotterdam and is reminiscent of Linklaters’ Eastern Europe strategy. Last year Linklaters closed a number of offices in the region but kept a referral relationship with an independent firm set up by some former Linklaters lawyers (The Lawyer, 22 September 2008).
Simmons managing partner Mark Dawkins said the split had nothing to do with the Portuguese practice’s financial performance.
“Because of the size of the Portuguese economy, it’s difficult for Portugal to produce the major global clients,” he said. “Equally, our clients don’t tend to need legal services in Portugal.”
Rebelo de Sousa signed up with the firm in 2001 after eight years as an alliance partner. Full integration took six years and was only finalised in 2007. It is understood that some 20 per cent of its fee-earners have left in the past two years as part of an efficiency drive.
Portugal ;managing partner Pedro Rebelo de Sousa said the majority of his clients were local companies, which clashed with Simmons’ strategy of focusing on a group of key firmwide clients.
The demerger is still subject to a partnership vote.