Herbert Smith abandons European alliance after merger knockback

Herbert Smith is set to end its alliance with German firm Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe after the European outfits voted against a merger.

Jonathan Scott
Jonathan Scott

Herbert Smith has confirmed that it will be giving notice to leave the alliance with Gleiss and Stibbe in order to pursue its objective of building a fully integrated European and global capability.  

Herbies said it would be handing in its notice to leave the alliance with the firms.

Senior partner Jonathan Scott said: “Our clients increasingly look to Herbert Smith to provide advice and support across all their markets, so our strategic goal has to be to develop a strong and integrated global platform.

“Securing clarity from our alliance partners on whether they wanted the opportunity of a merger to join us in building this platform was a necessary first step in the process. They’ve made their decisions. We’re now firmly in control of our international expansion and are pressing ahead with our plans to achieve this.

“We have the utmost respect for our alliance partners and look forward to maintaining the good relationships we have developed with colleagues at Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe over the years.”

Gleiss and Stibbe voted earlier this week not to merge with Herbert Smith after being the City firm’s alliance partners for the best part of a decade (22 November 2011).

In a joint statement Stibbe Brussels managing partner Jan Peeters and Amsterdam managing partner Heleen Kersten said it would consider working with Herbert Smith and Gleiss “if the alliance is terminated”, adding that it would also work with “other top-tier firms if they would better fit the client or matter”.

“During the last two months, Stibbe has considered Herbert Smith’s request to begin merger talks. We’ve decided not to change our current course,” they added.

“Stibbe is maintaining its independence in accordance with its strategic objective of being the leading internationally oriented law firm in the Benelux region. Stibbe will continue to offer its clients international access to its network of top-tier best friends firms abroad, including those in America, Europe or elsewhere.”

Rainer Loges, managing partner of Gleiss, said the firm regretted Herbert Smith’s decision but added it did not come entirely as a surprise after last weekend’s vote.

“Internationally, Gleiss Lutz remains well positioned,” added Loges. “We’ve built an unsurpassed, strong and tested international network with leading law firms and lawyers across the globe. Herbert Smith and Stibbe have always been part of this network. Gleiss Lutz has, however, also always relied on numerous other relationships throughout the world. We’ve always worked with the firms most suitable for our clients’ needs and will continue to do so.”

Earlier today the firm anounced that is has named new heads of Asia and Asia dispute resolution (24 November 2011).