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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is the latest firm to romance Paris, with the creation of a new office there to serve international clients. The firm has acquired seven partners and about 35 associates from the Paris office of London-based Watson, Farley & Williams. They will set up shop in a new Orrick office Nov. 1. “Many of Orrick’s clients require an active presence in key global financial centers,” Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. said in a statement. “Paris is unquestionably one of those locations.” Opening in Paris is part of Orrick’s strategy to become a global player. The firm opened its first international office in Singapore in 1996 through a joint venture with a local firm and subsequently opened offices in London and Tokyo. Its London office now has 19 attorneys. Orrick was in negotiations to hire the Watson, Farley crew for several months, but discussions between the firms bogged down over the lengthy notice period required of attorneys at European firms. Under this requirement Watson, Farley lawyers would have had to wait until January to join Orrick. The two firms finally agreed to reduce the notice period to the end of October. Two major California firms already have offices in Paris. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher set up shop there in 1967 and Latham & Watkins has 95 attorneys in Paris after merging with a local firm in 2001. Several New York firms also have offices in the city. But legal consultant Peter Zeughauser said he didn’t know why Orrick would pick Paris as a second outpost in Europe. “To be a global firm there are lots of places you could go,” he said. “It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.” Gibson’s Paris office focuses primarily on mergers and acquisitions, while Latham’s is full service, handling everything from corporate work to tax and employment law. Most U.S. firms have entered Europe through London and then branched into other countries. Gibson has offices in London and Munich, while Latham has outposts in London, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Brussels, Milan and Moscow, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.

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