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Dechert announced Tuesday that, effective Oct. 1, it would acquire 32 attorneys from the Paris office of the disbanding Coudert Brothers. The addition more than quadruples the size of Dechert’s existing nine-lawyer Paris office. New York-based Coudert, a pioneering international law firm, announced last month it was disbanding its global network of offices and practices. The firm had been in merger discussions with Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie but the two failed to reach an agreement on a firmwide combination. Earlier this week, however, Baker & McKenzie announced the acquisition of 70 lawyers from Coudert’s New York office. At the time of its breakup announcement, Coudert had more than 400 lawyers in about 20 offices worldwide. At its height a few years ago, the firm had close to 700 lawyers in 28 offices. Dechert officials said the acquisition will give its Paris office additional capabilities with cross-border corporate, life sciences and international litigation/arbitration work as well as its French tax and employment practices. The six new partners joining Dechert in Paris are: � Alain Decombe, a corporate lawyer, specializes in mergers and acquisitions and pharmaceutical law. His clients include French and multinational groups active in the life sciences, food, energy and engineered products sectors. � Xavier Nyssen specializes in litigation and international arbitration, with a focus on the energy, electronic and telecommunications sectors. � Jay Aragon�s focuses on corporate law, with an emphasis advising on cross-border transactions and joint ventures in Europe. � Philip Dunham specializes in litigation and international arbitration and represents clients before the International Chamber of Commerce and London Court of International Arbitration. He is particularly experienced in matters relating to energy and construction. � Eduardo Silva-Romero, a former deputy secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, specializes in international arbitration cases involving sovereign states, particularly involving Spain and Latin America. � Yann de Kergos specializes in the tax aspects of transactions, and corporate reorganizations and tax litigation, in particular in the life sciences, media and high-tech sectors. Barton Winokur, Dechert’s chairman, said Coudert lawyers in Paris first approached Dechert about four or five months ago. Coudert’s Paris office had 48 lawyers as recently as last year and Winokur said he focused on acquiring lawyers that fit into some of Dechert’s core practice areas. He added that the latest expansion should put Dechert on the map in Paris. “We did not have significant capabilities there because most of our key partners in that office were Americans who just happened to spend a good deal of time in Paris,” Winokur said. “This gives us a base [for future expansion]. We are talking to more lawyers in Paris right now and we needed to get this done before those groups would consider [joining Dechert].” Dechert’s office in Paris has been open since 1995 but the Coudert addition gives it more than 40 lawyers. The firm also has one of the largest U.K. offices of any American law firm, with more than 100 lawyers in London. In addition, it has smaller offices in Frankfurt, Germany; Munich, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; and Luxembourg. Founded in 1853, Coudert was long the leading international law firm. It opened a Paris office in 1879 and was the first American law firm to have offices in London, Hong Kong, Beijing and Moscow. But in the last decade or so, the firm’s international pre-eminence had been eroded as many other U.S. and British firms expanded globally. Lacking strong domestic practices, Coudert’s profits failed to keep pace with other firms. Coudert had profits per partner of $410,000 in 2004, the second-lowest of all the firms included in the AmLaw 100 survey of The American Lawyer magazine. In the last several months, the pace of the firm’s decline quickened with the departures of partners and offices in several locations. One of the rivals whose international expansion presaged Coudert’s decline was Baker & McKenzie. Founded in 1949, the firm has attained a scale in its practice Coudert fell short of. The firm, which had profits per partner of $650,000 last year, currently has 3,200 lawyers located in 69 offices in 38 different countries. Other firms have already acquired large parts of Coudert. Earlier this year, San Francisco’s Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe acquired all of Coudert’s London and Moscow practices. More recently, Orrick brought in 30 Coudert lawyers in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, China. DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary and Los Angeles’ Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton have also recently brought aboard Coudert partners.

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