A pair of top U.K. firms have signed affiliation agreements with counterparts in Argentina, Germany and The Netherlands.
London-based Mills & Reeve, a more than 500-lawyer firm, has reached formal alliances with German firm Graf von Westphalen and Dutch firm Van Benthem & Keulen. Mills & Reeve has worked with the two firms for about 10 years but has now formalized the relationships, which already involve joint legal training programs and regular secondee exchanges.
Mills & Reeve now has three such arrangements with European firms, having previously entered into an alliance with Paris-based Fidal in 2014.
Graf von Westphalen has five offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, as well as outposts in Brussels, Istanbul and Shanghai. Van Benthem & Keulen is based in Utrecht and is member of SCG Legal, an international network of 148 law firms in 82 countries.
The firms have previously worked alongside one another on M&A, private equity, flotations, corporate finance, employment law and commercial disputes issues.
“We have worked with both firms, but have not been public about that apart from on a deal-by-deal basis,” said Tom Pickthorn, head of international at Mills & Reeve. “We wanted to go public so our clients here know they can come to us for their legal needs wherever they are. We think it is better for clients to have full-service local experts rather than an English firm with two men, a dog and a brass plaque.”
Pickthorn added that a key factor for the deals was a rise in client demand for legal advice on Brexit-related issues. With the U.K. set to leave the European Union in 2019, some of the firm’s European clients are concerned about how they will operate in the U.K. going forward.
“Most of our clients are internationally-focused and are concerned by the uncertainties of Brexit,” Pickthorn said. “They are looking for more support in Europe and secondly, since Brexit, we have seen an increase in our European clients looking here. Just as our U.K. clients have concerns about how they will trade in Europe, Europeans have the same concerns about how they will trade in the U.K.”
In Mills & Reeve’s most recent financial results, gross revenue increased by 6.9 percent, to a record high of roughly $124.8 million, given current exchange rates. Profits per equity partner also grew from $500,805 to $539,637, a 7.8 percent increase. This followed a merger this past summer with real estate, projects and construction firm Maxwell Winward, a combination that did not have any bearing on its financial results for 2016-17.
Meanwhile, DAC Beachcroft, another London-based firm busy picking up some of the remnants of Sedgwick’s London in the city, is expanding its presence in Latin America through a new association in Argentina.
The tie-up with Buenos Aires-based López Saavedra & Villarroel Abogados gives DAC Beachcroft a presence in 11 separate jurisdictions in Latin America. The Argentine firm, which focuses on insurance and reinsurance law, has three partners and around 50 staff.
The two firms, which already share a number of common clients, are now looking into the referral process and secondments as part of their association.
“DAC Beachcroft already has comprehensive coverage in Latin America, but Argentina is rapidly becoming an emerging insurance market of real interest to our clients,” said DAC Beachcroft managing partner David Pollitt. “Joining forces with López Saavedra & Villarroel is an ideal way for us to respond to client demand to help them grow into this exciting jurisdiction.”
Mariano López Saavedra, a name partner at the Argentine firm, said in a statement that the deal with DAC Beachcroft will allow his shop to “capitalize on the growing importance of the Argentinian market to insurer clients, as the country’s economy continues the ongoing process of economic liberalization.”
The American Lawyer reported last year on Argentina’s new political leadership. In 2016, DAC Beachcroft also signed deals with Central American firm BLP and Peru’s Torres Carpio Portocarrero & Richter.
DAC Beachcroft has also launched offices in Chile, Colombia and Miami, alongside an association with full-service Brazilian firm Demarest. In January, DAC Beachcroft teamed up with Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Germany’s BLD Bach Langheid Dallmayr and Australia’s Wotton + Kearney to launch Legalign Global, a unique model that combines four of the world’s leading insurance firms to deliver legal services for insurers and their global clients.
Kennedys, another top U.K. firm in the insurance sector, has also been active in the Latin American market, opening offices in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru in recent years. In October, Kennedys scooped up Sedgwick’s office in Bermuda, a move that came four months after the British firm absorbed New Jersey-based Carroll, McNulty & Kull.