Dugué’s career stretches over 30 years, starting as in-house counsel for Banque Nationale de Paris in 1983, later working for Banque Indosuez. He joined Shearman & Sterling as an associate in 1990, becoming European counsel in 1997 and a partner the following year.
He met Kirtley in 2004 when the latter joined Shearman as an associate after a stint as legal consultant for the prosecution in the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Dugué went on to work at Mayer Brown in 2008 for 18 months before setting up an independent practice, until he joined Lizop Associés in October of last year. Kirtley moved to legacy firm Salans in 2007 until he joined Lazareff Le Bars in April 2012.
The partners both intend to practice both as counsel and as arbitrators, and say that avoiding conflicts of interest was an important factor in their decision to set up an independent practice.
In addition, Dugué says “modern technology“ has reduced the need for the resources of a larger firm. “Size simply becomes less of an issue. There is less need for [a law firm to have] foreign offices, and it is reasonably easy to scale up the size of each team and to add language capacities or legal expertise as necessary on a case-by-case basis.”
He adds that the new firm will be able to offer different cost structures, even as it offers “nearly identical services to those that we previously provided”.
Dugué is listed as an arbitrator with the ICC and the Association Française d’Arbitrage (AFA). As an ICC arbitrator, his cases have included a dispute over the termination of a construction contract between two North African companies; and a share purchase dispute concerning an oil and gas drilling project in North Africa. He has also chaired a tribunal in an ad hoc arbitration between two European companies regarding the termination of distributorship agreements in Scandinavia.
Kirtley is also listed as an arbitrator with the ICC, and his career has included acting for a regional government of a southern African region in its bid for independence. He suggests that the move to a boutique practice will allow him greater freedom to take on “unique clients” that a larger firm would not accept.
At Lazareff Le Bars, he has advised on investment arbitration matters and a large number of ICC cases relating to construction, chemical patents, oil and gas, and energy plant developments. He has also appeared in AFA and ad hoc proceedings.
He says, “I left Lazareff Le Bars on very good terms and hope to continue working with my many good friends there for many years.” He adds that his experience at the firm led him to prefer the boutique model, which allows for the provision of legal services to meritorious clients “who simply could not afford representation by large corporate firms.”
Kirtley says that along with more traditional North American and European clients, he hopes to spend a considerable amount of his time working with clients in the developing world and former Soviet Union.
Kirtley says, “I am thrilled to be working with such an excellent lawyer as Christophe once again, who is one of the best and brightest lawyers I have known over the past decade of practising international arbitration and whose advice I value dearly. I do think that we are highly complementary, and I am greatly looking forward to this.”
Dugué adds, “I know William to be a highly competent and very driven practitioner who clients trust and enjoy working with. We think that our combination of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and French culture will be highly complementary, allowing us to work at the highest level on international arbitration cases both in the French and English languages.”