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Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is nearing a deal to acquire well-known Paris law firm Rambaud Martel, the latest move in an aggressive overseas expansion this year by the San Francisco-based Orrick. The 750-lawyer Orrick would pick up about 50 lawyers, including name partner and rainmaker Jean-Pierre Martel, to boost its Paris presence to about 90 attorneys, an informed source confirmed. Orrick opened in Paris three years ago with 42 lawyers who defected from U.K. firm Watson, Farley & Williams. Earlier this year it added two partners, George Yates and Philippe Rincazaux, from the Paris office of New York-based Coudert Brothers, which is dissolving. The news of the Rambaud Martel merger was first reported on the Web site of The Lawyer in London. The deal comes three months after Rambaud Martel lost six partners and about a dozen associates to the Paris office of New York’s Proskauer Rose. Rambaud used to occupy an exalted spot within the Paris bar. Along with two other boutiques, Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier and Bredin Prat, it was hired for some role in most major mergers. But the position of these firms has eroded over the last five years as global British firms such as Linklaters and Clifford Chance and U.S. firms such as Latham & Watkins LLP have expanded their Paris M&A practices, and as more deals have some cross-border component. “I would not call Rambaud Martel a corporate powerhouse, especially after the defections,” said one New York M&A lawyer familiar with the Paris market. “It’s an interesting move for Orrick because I’m not really sure what they are getting other than a name and office space.” In August, Orrick opened a 13-lawyer office in Moscow with lateral hires from Coudert, after taking on 34 lawyers from Coudert’s London office. Later that month it struck a deal to take over Coudert’s practices in Hong Kong and Shanghai and a substantial part of its Beijing operation. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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