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DLA Piper Germany" />The expansion of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary in Germany has mirrored the pace of the firm's expansion as a whole. Since it was set up in 2004, DLA Piper's German operation has grown from three to around 80 lawyers.
From its start with just the one office in Cologne, it now has bases in Hamburg and Frankfurt. And the firm's ambitions do not end there: as first reported by The Lawyer (26 June), managing partner Ulrich Jüngst is looking for an opening in Munich.
However, Jüngst will be sidestepping the private equity market in favour of targeting the equally competitive IP/IT market.
DLA Piper Germany was launched when the firm split from its German ally Görg Rechtsanwälte in July 2004. At the time Jüngst was the managing partner of Görg and in favour of a merger with DLA.
"A complete merger with DLA was not acceptable to the majority of the partnership," he explains. "Nigel Knowles [DLA Piper joint chief executive] asked me to build up DLA in Germany from scratch."
And there has been no looking back since. Jüngst started up the Cologne office soon after his departure and just three months later Hamburg was added to the portfolio.
In 2005 the firm added a Frankfurt office after a raid on Coudert Brothers, which was in the midst of disintegration, giving it a five-partner team that included Frankfurt managing partner Michael Magotsch. This office was recently boosted by the arrival of a five-partner banking and finance team from EY Luther.
"We [DLA Piper] have a very strong banking and finance practice in other countries, especially the UK and US. It made sense to get the EY Luther team," says Jüngst.
These appointments reflect Jüngst's acknowledgment that developing a strong banking group is a vital part of the German business, which so far has seen a greater concentration on corporate work.
"We started more with corporate because the first people who formed the firm were corporate and M&A lawyers," admits Jüngst.
Although Cologne is the largest office, Jüngst also recognises the importance of having a strong presence in Frankfurt, especially for an international audience.
"There was always a plan to build up banking, especially in Frankfurt. To the outside world Frankfurt is the capital for law firms, so it's important to have a big office there," says Jüngst.
DLA Piper Germany has been accepted by most of its rivals, but Jüngst admits that this was not always the case, saying: "At the start they might have thought we'd disappear after a few months, but they've seen that we're still here and in good shape."