Osborne Clarke looks set to open its own office in Brussels as the national law firm pushes ahead with European expansion plans despite entering early-stage merger talks with Field Fisher Waterhouse.
The top 50 U.K. firm is planning to set up its own base in the Belgian capital in early 2013 after loosening ties with former local alliance partner De Wolf & Partners earlier this year when it revealed plans to merge with several members of its former alliance.
Its Spanish and Italian partners -- Osborne Clarke Spain and SLA Studio Legale Associato -- have joined Osborne Clarke, while it has cut off ties with other alliance members: Dutch firm Ploum Lodder Princen and French outfit Stehlin & Associes.
Osborne Clarke had already announced plans to launch its own office in Paris, but had not previously suggested it would also open in Belgium.
In addition to its European expansion plans, the Bristol-headquartered firm is also continuing its hiring spree in the U.K. by planning to make around 10 partner hires during the current financial year.
Most of these are expected to be in Osborne Clarke's London office, with litigation, corporate and commercial all earmarked for growth. This follows on from the 10 partners hired last year.
Osborne Clarke chief executive Simon Beswick commented: "In addition to our U.K. hires, we will look to make a number of appointments in our German and Italian offices while our two new offices in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) will be going through an integration program involving 20 lawyers."
Legal Week revealed earlier this month that Osborne Clarke and Field Fisher had begun preliminary merger talks.