Stibbe’s Clevenbergh teams up with fellow heavyweights for boutique launch

The former secretary-general of legacy Herbert Smith’s European alliance Olivier Clevenbergh has joined forces with a colleague from Stibbe and a partner from Benelux firm NautaDutilh to launch a Belgian corporate boutique.

Olivier Clevenbergh
Olivier Clevenbergh

Clevenbergh, one-time managing partner of Stibbe’s Brussels office before leading the firm’s alliance with Herbert Smith and Gleiss Lutz prior to its dissolution in 2011, has formed boutique Strelia with Stibbe litigation head Jean-Pierre Fierens and Nauta tax partner Benoît Malvaux.

Strelia’s founding partners also include the team from four-partner Belgian firm Tossens & Associés. Jean-François Tossens and Henri Culot become partners, Henri Tack will be a partner although not a member of Strelia’s corporate entitity, and André Tossens is an of counsel.

Clevenbergh announced his departure from Stibbe in July (18 July 2012) following the dissolution of the Herbert Smith alliance (22 December 2011), saying he was seeking a new challenge. Herbert Smith went on to merge with Australian firm Freehills (28 June 2012).

Strelia currently has 12 associates alongside its founding partners, most of whom have also joined from Stibbe. Clevenbergh told The Lawyer the firm had plans to expand to between 30 and 50 lawyers.

“We want to remain relatively small but still be able to attract the best work,” he added.

Clevenbergh said clients had reacted positively to the news of Strelia’s launch.

“The clients are, I think, expecting something new in the market, especially in Belgium where the same established firms have been busy for many years now,” he said. “I think clients welcome some change and a new offering.”

He added that Strelia would be able to react more flexibly to clients’ demands as well as getting to know them better than could be managed in larger firms.

Strelia will offer advice on corporate, M&A and dispute resolution matters.