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The quest for a seat in the magic circle

The complex demands of global capital market dealings suggest that law firms that have close links with accountancy arms should be able to attract an increasing amount of business

The announcement that Gilles Thieffry has left Norton Rose to become Andersen Legal's head of capital markets (effective from March 2001) has caught the attention of Financial lawyers. Thieffry's decision to move is seen by many as a noteworthy leap of faith. Ever since the cancellation of its mooted merger with Wilde Sapte, Andersen Legal has toiled in the hinterland of the elite City of London Financial law firms. Nobody doubted its commitment to becoming a big player - but it lacked charismatic practice leaders, and, until recently, the dreaded "accountants" tag continued to dog its success with potential lateral hires.

However, with the arrival of Tony Williams, formerly the managing partner at Clifford Chance, Andersen Legal began to make real headway, as Williams concentrated on pulling in the sort of figureheads he knew the Firm would need if it were to make any inroads on the top-end competition. Certainly, Thieffry's arrival is a feather in Williams's cap. The 41-year-old Frenchman has established an impressive reputation in the fiercely individual arena of international securities law. Ex-UBS Phillips&Drew Securities and BNP Capital Markets, Thieffry has boosted a team at Andersen Legal that already includes Douglas Colliver (former head of banking at Dewey Ballantine) and Jean Thibaud (former Gide Loyrette Nouel Finance partner).

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