DLA Piper’s former France managing partner has left the firm to launch a private equity and M&A boutique.
Michel Frieh, who spent five years as DLA’s country managing partner for France after joining in 2012, stepped down from his leadership role last year.
His new venture, which will operate under the name Frieh & Associés, marks a relaunch of the boutique he first founded in 2007 after leaving Linklaters, where he had spent three years as a partner.
Frieh & Associés joined forces with fellow French boutique Bouhenic Baudin & Associés in 2011 to form Frieh Bouhenic, which subsequently merged with DLA the following year.
“My idea is to build a partnership with a number of firms, both French and foreign,” Frieh said in an interview with Legal Week, the London-based affiliate of The American Lawyer. ”There are a number of up-and-coming companies across Europe which have been founded by very competent and smart people who have previously worked with large law firms and are aware of the limitations of that model.”
Frieh said that clients are looking for different types of counsel who are more involved, can spend more time on their matters and can make a good living by charging lower fees than big law firms.
“It will be an experiment, and I love experiments,” he said. “The plan is to partner with firms specializing in tax, competition and litigation, which works well when people know you are not trying to steal their business, so you get a good service.”
Frieh officially stepped down as DLA’s France managing partner on Sept. 30 of last year. He was replaced by co-managing partners Xavier Norlain, who was previously head of corporate, and international arbitration partner Alexander Brabant, who had worked alongside Frieh as co-managing partner since March 2017.
Frieh recently led a DLA Piper team that advised private equity fund Bridgepoint Capital and wealth management company Primonial on the acquisition of a 40 percent stake in French asset management company La Financiere de l’Echiquier. Mayer Brown advised alongside DLA on financing issues with finance partner Patrick Teboul in the lead.
“We are grateful to Michel for his role in helping to establish DLA Piper as the premier global law firm in Paris and wish him every success for the future,” a DLA Piper spokesperson said.
Recent hires for DLA in Paris include a three-partner tax team from Reed Smith, who came aboard just 12 months after they joined Reed Smith from the collapsed European arm of King & Wood Mallesons. The firm also hired corporate partner Benjamin Aller from asset management consultancy MJ Hudson to launch a fund practice.
Other recent hires in Europe include a three-partner corporate team that joined in Frankfurt from K&L Gates.
However, DLA has seen a number of senior corporate exits in its continental European offices over last year. Barbara van Hussen, former head of corporate in the Netherlands and executive board member responsible for offices in Europe and the Middle East between 2014 and 2016, left the firm at the end of 2017 to set up her own practice.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Munich private equity partner Dominik Stuhler left to join Allen & Overy at the end of last year.
Former senior partner Juan Picon also resigned from the firm late last year to join Latham & Watkins in Madrid. Prior to becoming DLA’s senior partner in 2016, Picon led the firm’s Madrid office, where he acquired a reputation as one of the top players in the Spanish corporate market.
Earlier this month, London partner Andrew Darwin won a partner vote to succeed Picon as senior partner.