Why should a Benelux law firm have an office in New York? For NYC-based partners Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde and Jad Nader this question is a no-brainer: “Twenty percent of the firm's turnover originates in the United States. New York City is an ideal location for promoting the firm, and having an office here allows us to connect in person with our US clients.”
NautaDutilh's New York office at 1 Rockefeller Plaza is relatively small compared to those in the Benelux: there are 12 lawyers and five support staff headed by Elizabeth van Schilfgaarde. Its clients are mainly large banks, private equity firms, life science companies, investment funds and insurance companies.
Elizabeth, who has worked across the pond for NautaDutilh for 20 years, weighs in on the strategic value of the location: “We contribute to US deals and transactions, in our clients' time zone, working when necessary with specialists from our Luxembourg and Dutch offices. We represent the firm and facilitate deals in Luxembourg and the Netherlands for our clients here. We also serve as a landing spot for colleagues travelling to the US who wish to work between meetings, host clients, or simply stop by for a cup of coffee.”
“Our presence here is essential to serving our clients and referral firms in the US, which has long been our main market outside Europe. We are dependent on international business, and there's a lot going on today. The business climate can be very volatile, but there’s currently significant activity on the market.”
Together with our European colleagues, we offer 24-hour service.
Luxembourg partner Jad Nader confirms the importance of having a NY office: “Our office at Rockefeller Center, a landmark location, shows clients that we are committed to investing here and to helping them round-the-clock. Together with our European colleagues, we offer 24-hour service. Sometimes it helps that we are able to explain face-to-face the intricacies of dealing with local authorities and navigating a civil law system. For our US clients, first-hand access to practical advice about a foreign jurisdiction can help them feel more in control of their transaction.”
“Our international practices in Luxembourg and the Netherlands complement each other, in fact. For various reasons, international companies often have holding companies in either or both jurisdictions. And the questions and practical concerns that arise in these countries are not that different. It helps if clients are able to talk to lawyers from both jurisdictions at the same time. It also makes it easier to assess which corporate structure will best serve their needs.”
“The New York office has also been beneficial within NautaDutilh,” adds Elizabeth. “New York is somewhere our talent can gain experience. Whether that’s handling US transactions, working with US lawyers, meeting with potential clients, honing practical skills such as public speaking, or business development.
“In short: the New York office is an ideal training ground for associates who wish to learn. We do much of the public relations and business development work for NautaDutilh in the US ourselves, so we have to be creative. We raise entrepreneurs.”