Nixon Peabody confirmed Tuesday that it is shuttering its four-year old Paris office, the only European outpost of its 17 worldwide hubs apart from London.
As of Tuesday, the firm’s website listed eight full-time partners and seven associates in Paris, as well as three partners cross-listed in other offices. One of those three is Paris office head Douglas Glucroft, a cross-border transactional attorney who also works out of Nixon’s New York office.
Nixon spokeswoman Allison McClain did not respond to questions Tuesday about when the office would be closing or whether the attorneys would continue working for the firm, but confirmed in a statement that the office would definitely be shutting down. U.K. legal publication The Lawyer first reported news of the office closure.
The statement alluded to the possibility that the lawyers attached to the Paris office will continue to be affiliated with Nixon, saying the firm will rely on “our association with our Paris colleagues, the Terralex network, and other referral relationships” to continue serving clients in France and Europe (Terralex is a network of law firms around the world). “Nixon Peabody is constantly focused on managing our business in the United States and internationally to best serve the needs of our clients,” the statement said.
Glucroft and other Paris partners at the firm could not immediately be reached for comment on their plans for the future.
Nixon Peabody’s Paris office—which currently houses lawyers specializing in labor and employment, corporate, M&A, finance, intellectual property, antitrust, and government affairs work—launched in the summer of 2008 with the hire of a dozen partners from Taylor Wessing, a firm based in Germany and the United Kingdom that had engaged in failed merger talks with Nixon Peabody in 2007. In July of that year, the two firms agreed not to poach each other’s lawyers for the next two years, and merger talks fizzled out within several months.
When Taylor Wessing caught wind of the Paris group’s impending departure in 2008, it sued Nixon Peabody in upstate New York, claiming the U.S. firm colluded with Taylor Wessing’s Paris managing partner to raid its nonequity partner ranks in the city. In the suit, Taylor Wessing sought an injunction preventing the partners from moving as well as $5 million in damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the former Paris managing partner, Arnaud de Senilhes. According to the suit, the firm learned of what they considered de Senilhes’s betrayal when he left a Powerpoint presentation pitching Taylor Wessing’s lawyers to Nixon management in an office printer.
Nixon Peabody responded with a countersuit in which it claimed any nonsolicitation agreement the two firms had was voided once the merger talks collapsed. Just a month after Taylor Wessing filed its suit, New York state court judge Kenneth Fisher ruled that Nixon Peabody had not violated any New York laws or contracts when it took on the Paris group, giving the lawyers the clearance to move to Nixon despite the moratorium. (In an added wrinkle to the 2008 litigation, Taylor Wessing was represented by Marc Dreier, who just eight months later pleaded guilty to charges of securities and wire fraud and money laundering in connection to a years-long investment fraud. He is now serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.)
After all that, de Senilhes left Nixon this past September to join French firm Jeantet Associes. Nixon lost another partner in Paris in July when finance attorney Jean-Norbert Pontier jumped to SNR Denton.
The closing of the Paris office will leave Nixon with two outposts outside the U.S., one in London, the other in Hong Kong. From January through October of this year, eight partners and one counsel have left Nixon Peabody, according to an Am Law Daily count. On the hiring side, meanwhile, the firm has added four partners and five counsel during that period.