Sidley and Brown & Wood in Euro drive

US firms Sidley & Austin and Brown & Wood are planning a dramatic European expansion following their decision to merge.

The firms voted in favour of a link-up to create a 1,325-lawyer firm titled Sidley Austin Brown & Wood last Tuesday (24 April).

The merged firm will have 400-lawyer offices in Chicago and New York, and will become one of the biggest US firms. It will have just 80 lawyers in Europe, all in London.

The new firm aims to open three or four offices on the Continent. London Sidley & Austin partner Howard Waterman, who was charged with looking at Europe pre-merger, says: “Europe’s going to have added importance now. We’ve had talks with a couple of firms, but now we’ll redouble our efforts to move into that area. Germany and Italy are areas where we’ve had a lot of business, but Brown & Wood do a lot more than us in France and Spain. We’ll now be talking with their people about it.”