A&O’s Düsseldorf founder splits from firm to launch boutique

The partner who spearheaded the launch of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Düsseldorf office is set to leave the firm to establish his own boutique.

Thomas Austmann will launch his new corporate practice, called Austmann & Partners, tomorrow (1 November), taking with him his team from A&O, which comprises Nina Böttger and Sorika Pluskat – a counsel and senior associate who will become partners at the new firm – and two more associates. News of Austmann’s departure was first reported in Juve.

Austmann’s offices are in the same building as A&O’s. He has rented 700 sq ft with the intention of adding more staff to the practice soon. Austmann said that he was taking all his clients, which include Colexon Engery and Hochtief, with him to his new venture, but that he was leaving A&O on good terms and would refer work to the firm.

Austmann was Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Germany managing partner when he was lured away to launch A&O’s Düsseldorf office in 2007 (29 June 2007).

Austmann said that he was on his way to establishing his own firm when he was persuaded to join A&O. “They’d been looking for someone to open a new office and it was quite a convincing argument,” said Austmann. “The firm essentially said that I could do what I wanted and that they would be taking the risk.

“Now the firm has built up the office and has a very good team, and my task is done. Everything I wanted to do has been achieved, but I still have an entrepreneurial spirit and that’s what helped me make up my mind to do something else.”

In a statement, A&O’s Germany senior partner Neil George Weiand said: “We can confirm Thomas Austmann is leaving Allen & Overy. We’d like to thank him for his contribution to our Düsseldorf office and wish him all the best for the future.”