Ex-Hengeler partner quits Milbank after just ten days

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  • I hope John Grisham has read this story, as he'd love the whole 'no one ever leaves this firm' plot line. I don't know what this German partner did to upset his partners but 'The Firm' has well and truly stuffed him now.

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  • Nobody, absolutely nobody comes out of this looking good. Bad judgement on all sides.

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  • Long term readers of this magazine will remember the case of Frode Jensen, the Pillsbury Winthrop partner who was accused of sexual harassment by Pillsbury when he moved to Latham & Watkins. Jensen sued for US$45m and forced Pillsbury to climbdown. Given the publication of the Grobecker story and Hengeler's comment in the legal press around the world, one wonders whether Mr Grobecker will take action against Hengeler in the most plaintiff friendly forum he can find. This one could run for quite a while.

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  • What will do more harm to Hengeler's international reputation and business?

    a) a leaving partner blabbering about better international opportunities at his new firm

    or

    b) a public statement of a Hengeler's partner in return about alleged "inacceptable personal misconduct" of the leaving partner giving proof not only of a lack of serenity and aplomb with respect to the leaver's statement but also of seriously bad manners and style ("personal" issues should be dealt with personally among the people concerned and not publicly, the latter containing the risk of massive and uncontrollable consequences for the concerned)?

    This does not give a good impression of the current status of Hengeler, a firm having traditionally been proud of its fairness and style even in times of storm. It's a shame.

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  • What rot. "Personal misconduct" doesn't mean he didn't get on with somebody, it means he grabbed some associate's boobs or something. What reflects badly on Hengeler is their having apparently initially agreed to keep it quiet in the first place.

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  • I second Anonymous's statement above. It is hard to imagine a justifying ground for Hengeler's public statement. After all, based on their own account Grobecker's alleged misconduct is "not related to the firm's business". So why make "non-business matters" public? To an outsider that seems to be a grave error in judgment . There should have been a more discrete way to deal with this if it really needed to be dealt with.

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  • Very vindictive on the part of Hengeler - and shows a real lack of class.
    Whatever he's done - and we live in unshockable times so I doubt it was that bad - does he deserve to be humilated like this?
    Let the guy go the new firm, agree that we'll say publicly it was down to lack of interantinal opps, and keep the gossip down the pub.
    Not hard is it.

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  • A grave misjudgment on Grobecker's part. I have little sympathy. If you get fired from a firm for reasons that may taint your reputation forever you better keep your mouth shut and be grateful for having found a new top-paying job. He publicly insulted his former firm. Their reaction was foreseeable and appropriate.

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  • You got to take two facts into consideration: First, Hengeler`s stellar reputation is partly due to the fact that no one ever leaves this firm (except in a coffin). Second, Hengeler's biggest fear is that "the market" could grow doubts as to its capability to do international work on the same level as Freshfields and the like. Grobecker, working with Hengeler for a decade, was perfectly aware of this. Therefore, it would have been good judgment on his part, if he had simply kept his mouth shut after he was forced to leave Hengeler in November. However, he decided to twist the facts and make a statement to the press, claiming that he chose to quit Hengeler because he wasn't offered sufficient opportunities to do international work. Though I somehow pity him for being in this disatrous situation, it was his own stupid mistake to provoke Hengeler with his unnecessary statement. Reminds me of the old Latin saying: Si tacuisses, philosphus mansisses...

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  • Si tacuisses...the same is true for Hengeler, isn't it? It is a real suprise to see Hengeler acting like this. Why didn't they just remain silent on Grobeckers statement and let the facts do the talking? If there is significant international business at Hengeler (and I would venture to say, there actually is), there was no need for the "clarification". Otherwise, the market must assume that Hengeler hit a sensitive point. Either way, Hengeler's reaction appears just childish and inappropriately aggressive. Their reputation is already spoiled and I bet that people over there are starting to realize that this was not exactly a smart PR move.

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