Partners to vote on appointment of former Wessing chairman
Bird & Bird has finally found a way into Germany and was set to vote last week on plans to take on former Wessing chairman Wolfgang von Meibom and a group of partners from Andersen Luther. As revealed by Grapevine, the weekly email news service on www.thelawyer. com/lawyernews, a successful vote would give the firm an office in Düsseldorf and its first presence in Germany. The move would see the former Wessing group, currently at Andersen Luther, including Meibom, energy and competition partner Jan Byok and IT partners Christian Harmsen and Felix Rödiger, move to Bird & Bird. They would be joined by corporate and M&A partner Alexander Schroder-Frerkes, who is also a former Wessing partner, but who left Andersen at the beginning of June to set up on his own. The former Wessing partners already have strong links with Bird & Bird, which has had a referral relationship with Wessing in the past. Bird & Bird has been looking to move into Germany for some time, but up until now it has not been successful in finding the right people. It is understood to be looking to set up a full-service firm with a technology sector focus. The Andersen Luther partners would fit well with Bird & Bird. Meibom is one of the best-known IT lawyers in Germany, while Byok also has a focus on IT work. It is understood that Bird & Bird wants to model its German practice on its other international offices. To date, 40 per cent of its partners are based outside of the UK and it has offices in Paris, The Hague, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Brussels. All the offices offer full service capability but also have a strong technology sector focus. The departures from Andersen Luther come as it finalises its merger with the German arm of Ernst & Young. It is the second time the group of partners have moved in the last year. In May 2001 Meibom left Wessing Luther for Andersen Luther following dissension over whether it should merge with an Anglo-Saxon firm. He was followed by Byok, Schroder-Frerkes, Harmsen and Rödiger. Wessing is expected to announce its merger with UK firm Taylor Joynson Garrett this week.