Paul Hastings, Weil lawyers form Paris boutique

A new French boutique is being launched with teams from Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker and Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Armfelt & Associés begins operations on 15 September and sees three partners from Paul Hastings join forces with Weil partner Pierre-Alain Bouhenic, as well as two Weil associates and one Sullivan & Cromwell associate.

Bouhenic told The Lawyer that the partners felt French companies preferred personal relationships with their lawyers, which is more easily offered at a small firm.

The seven lawyers – Andrew Armfelt, Eric Diamontis and Patricia Ghozland from Paul Hastings, Olivier Karsenti from Sullivan & Cromwell and Bouhenic, Tanguy Nicolet and Philippe Zambrowski from Weil – will all be partners in the new venture.

The plan is to provide high-level advice to clients across Europe in high-level restructuring, M&A and litigation.

“We want to keep quite small,” said Bouhenic. “Small is beautiful.”

He said the seven lawyers also want to work together because of the close friendship they share.

Under Paris bar rules, firms have to carry the name of one of their partners. Armfelt’s name was chosen as being the one which would be easiest for clients across Europe to pronounce.

English-born Armfelt is also the only non-French partner at the new firm and was a co-founder of Veil Armfelt Jourde La Garanderie (now Veil Jourde) in 1990.

Armfelt & Associés is one of the most high-profile independent launches to hit the Paris market for some time and is unusual because it features partners leaving US firms for a domestic independent rather than vice-versa.

Armfelt, Diamontis and Ghozland were all partners at French independent Moquet Borde before it merged with Paul Hastings in 2004.

Weil is also losing of counsel Jean-Yves Ollier to Salans. It is understood that he will join the firm as a partner.