Linklaters Axes Cologne Office

LAWFUEL – LegalWeek reports that Linklaters is to axe its Cologne office following the magic circle firm’s decision to launch in Duesseldorf, the firm announced today.

Only 10 of the office’s 24 partners will relocate to Duesseldorf, with the rest in negotiations over their future.

All the associates in the firm’s 110-lawyer Cologne office have been made offers to transfer to another office but it is not yet clear how many have accepted.

In a statement, the firm said: “A number of partners in the Cologne office do not share the strategic vision of opening an office in Duesseldorf and the firm is engaged in constructive discussions with them.”

Cologne and Duesseldorf are within 40 miles of each other and UK firms have traditionally avoided having a presence in both cities.

The 10 former Cologne partners are joined in Duesseldorf by corporate partners Ralph Wollburg and Achim Kirchfeld, who join from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s local arm.

The vast majority of Germany’s top firms are present in either Cologne or Duesseldorf, but increasingly firms are opting for the latter. Linklaters has now joined the likes of Hengeler Mueller and Clifford Chance in Duesseldorf.

Linklaters is the second major firm to pull out of Cologne this year, following Berwin Leighton Paisner ally Beiten Burkhardt moving to re-house the bulk of its Cologne team in Duesseldorf in February.

Other UK firms to have left the city include Norton Rose, which saw the entirety of its 65-lawyer office defect to CMS Hasche Sigle in early 2005.

Linklaters senior partner David Cheyne said: “This is an exceptional opportunity to build our corporate strength in Germany as a significant element of our pre-eminent pan-European corporate/M&A practice”

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