International doubles – Bird & Bird and Herbert Smith Freehills open new hubs in Amsterdam and Sydney

International doubles – Bird & Bird and Herbert Smith Freehills open new hubs in Amsterdam and Sydney

Bird & Bird continues to invest in its international operations, launching its second Dutch office in Amsterdam 16 years after opening in The Hague.

However the new base, operative in January 2018, will not have any permanent staff but act as a hub for the firm’s lawyers to meet with Amsterdam-based clients as well as providing a flexible working space.

Netherlands managing partner Marcus Huisman told Legal Business the firm saw Amsterdam as a logical step. ‘There is a need to be close on a regular basis to our clients and prospects. International clients arrive at Schiphol Airport [in Amsterdam] and we want to offer them the opportunity to meet us there.’

He also pointed to the relocation of the European Medicines Agency from London to the Dutch capital in April 2019 as the most recent development encouraging the firm to open the new space. ‘We have a strong footprint in that sector, and this provides us with new opportunities.’

Bird & Bird’s office in The Hague numbers 80 lawyers, around 20 of them partners, focusing mainly on IP, telecoms, IT, corporate, energy and tax.

Huisman said there was a ‘broad feeling’ that the firm’s energy, corporate and fintech operations would find more opportunities with a base in the capital, and the firm was also looking closely at the Dutch media sector, which is very much Amsterdam-based.

‘We don’t think the new space should be limited to a few partners or associates,’ added Huisman. ‘We want a collective effort to make it a success.’

Bird & Bird’s main operations in The Netherlands will remain in The Hague, where the country’s telecoms regulator and Supreme Court are located and many IP matters decided on. A division of the Unified Patent Court is also expected to be established in the city next year.

This is the third announcement concerning Bird & Bird’s international operations over the last two months. It signed a non-exclusive co-operation agreement with Chinese firm AllBright Law Offices at the beginning of the month and also announced it would open a representative office in San Francisco next year, its first base in the States.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is to open a second base in Sydney to house its alternative legal services team and most of its Australian business services staff from 2018.

The firm said the opening of the ‘innovative business service hub’ means ‘a much more sustainable occupancy cost for the firm in Australia’ and will help modernise the way its people work.

About 230 staff will relocate from the firm’s office at Castlereagh Street to the new premises in Macquarie Park at Talavera Road in the first half of next year, including chief operating officer Nicole Bamforth.

‘This enables us to markedly reduce the amount of space we lease in 161 Castlereagh Street with a number of the floors we currently occupy being relinquished to the building’s owners for re-leasing,’ said HSF chief executive officer Mark Rigotti. ‘The per-metre cost-saving is materially significant. The business case in making this move is unquestionable.’