Lawyers from Cleary and Darrois Villey set up French independent

A team of lawyers from French independent Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s Paris office have split off to set up a corporate boutique.

The venture is led by Darrois Villey partner David Scemla and Cleary Gottlieb counsel Olivier Loizon, with a further six associates from Darrois Villey. All eight are founding partners of Scemla Loizon Veverka & de Fontmichel.

The firm will focus on business law, predominantly private equity, M&A and litigation and arbitration.

“We believe that we’ve learned to have technical skills, we’ve dealt with the main matters in the market in the last years and we know that quality’s very, very important,” said Scemla.

He said he was confident that the firm would begin operating with a solid pipeline of work. Loizon and the Darrois associates are yet to leave their firms, but are expected to do so within the coming weeks.

Scemla is only the second partner to leave Darrois Villey since 2000. In December Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer picked up corporate star Hervé Pisani (13 December 2011).

The move is similar to that made by a group of five associates from Darrois Villey’s rival Bredin Prat, who set up boutique firm Solferino Associés this time last year (17 January 2011).

Scemla said the group had been discussing the possibility of setting up the boutique since summer 2011. He and Loizon are joined by Fabrice Veverka, Alexandre de Fontmichel, Martin Donato, François Bourrier-Soifer, Louis Chenard and Charles Fillon.

The group ranges in age from 27 to 46. Scemla said this “pyramid” would make it unnecessary to hire associates immediately, as the younger partners would fulfil that role on a deal, although he added that the firm would bring associates on board as necessary. Scemla Loizon is also recruiting a tax partner.