Boutique Bonanza

This time last year the news was all about new boutiques. Oddly enough, history has repeated itself and 2013 has started with announcements about several more.

Perhaps the highest-profile boutique launch of the New Year is that of Belgian firm Strelia. Launched on 1 January, Strelia is a collaboration between former Stibbe partners Olivier Clevenbergh and Jean-Pierre Fierens, NautaDutilh tax partner Benoît Malvaux and the four partners of local firm Tossens & Associés.

Meanwhile existing Italian boutique Orsingher, set up by a team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2007, has enticed another four Freshfields partners into its ranks.

Orsingher is one of the more established Italian boutiques, but the boutique trend in Italy is certainly ongoing. The most recent development is the decision of former Dewey & LeBoeuf Italy head Bruno Gattai to quit Grimaldi Studio Legale, the spin-off from the defunct firm’s Italy offices, to set up 35-lawyer Gattai Minoli & Partners.

And in France, Hogan Lovells arbitration veteran Jean-Georges Betto is in the process of building up a new litigation boutique, Betto Seraglini. The team has grown in January with the launch team of four Hogan Lovells lawyers now joined by White & Case counsel Christophe Seraglini, STC Partners counsel Thierry Tomasi, and Gide Loyrette Nouel associate and barrister Jonathan Williams.

All these boutiques have cited a desire to provide a more flexible service to clients, which is undoubtedly an attraction in the current climate. But with larger firms also demonstrating a willingness to adapt to attract work, the boutiques are launching in a environment which is more competitive than ever.