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Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker is in merger discussions with a French law firm, setting the stage for the U.S. firm to gain a foothold in two of Europe’s most important legal markets. Eileen King, a Paul, Hastings spokesperson, confirmed that the firm has had discussions with Moquet Borde & Associes, in addition to several other French firms. But she stressed that the discussions had not yet resulted in anything final. While British legal publication The Lawyer.com reported that partners at both Paul, Hastings and Paris-based Moquet Borde had voted to approve the merger, King declined to comment, noting that Paul, Hastings never talks about internal votes. King said Moquet Borde has a great reputation and a track record of strong financial performance. The move would broaden Paul, Hastings’ network of international offices, which are concentrated in Asia. Paul, Hastings opened its sole European office in London in 1997. Moquet Borde has nearly 100 attorneys in offices in Paris, Lyon, Brussels, Budapest and Tallinn, Estonia. Paris and Brussels are considered two of Europe’s four key legal markets, said legal consultant Peter Zeughauser, with London and Germany representing the others. Paris is a hub for international commercial arbitration. The International Chamber of Commerce, which runs the International Arbitration Court, is based in Paris. Brussels has become the capital for anti-trust work in Europe as a result of the increasingly influential role of the European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory agency, which is based in the city. Several U.S. firms, including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Arnold & Porter and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, have opened offices in Brussels this year. According to its Web site, Moquet Borde’s core practice is advising clients on legal and tax issues relating to cross-border mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations and privatizations. The firm also has a litigation group related to its corporate activities. The site notes that the firm was founded in 1976 by “former French members of a New York law firm.”

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