OWA pan-Euro group opens in Silicon Valley

Osborne Clarke OWA’s European alliance will launch an independent office in Silicon Valley in mid-October under the banner of Osborne Westphalen, becoming the first pan-European legal service provider to open in the Californian technology capital.

The outpost will offer UK and European legal advice, but will not practise Californian law. The venture is designed to strengthen longstanding relationships with US firms and to form a platform for alliance members to promote their services to Californian companies doing business in Europe, and to UK clients doing business in the US.

It will be managed for the first year by Osborne Clarke’s London head of corporate Andrew Saul, technology media and telecoms (TMT) head Simon Rendell (who helped bring Yahoo! to Europe), and partners Angus Finnegan and Richard Smerdon.

Osborne Clarke managing partner Leslie Perrin says that “project California” has been on the management board for 18 months.

“We can’t understand why others aren’t doing it too,” he says. “There is a palpable appetite for UK and Continental legal advice on the ground in California.

“Being there full-time means we’re better able to provide the European access and round-the-clock service that the TMT sector and its legal services providers now want.

“We can work 20 out of every 24 hours on a deal, service the transaction in Californian time, and then coordinate the entire range of European legal advice requirements of US TMT companies. Essentially, the proposition is European advice, European know-how, Californian time.”

Lawyers from OWA’s German member Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest, as well as from other jurisdictions, are expected to be on the ground in Silicon Valley by June, when the office will relocate from Redwood Shores to Page Mill Road, Silicon Valley’s main street.

The other members of OWA are Rotterdam firm Ploum Lodder Princen, Paris-based Stehlin & Associés, and Osborne Clarke’s offices in Barcelona and Madrid.

Adrian Taylor, the chief executive officer of OWA who is based in Frankfurt, says the move has massive significance for the five-firm alliance. “This shows a pretty big commitment to moving together into markets and to winning new work,” he says. “There’s been a huge vote of confidence from all of the members.”

Perrin adds: “The enthusiasm for this and for closer integration is driving the alliance into a much more integrated shape.”