The Budapest office, which Freshfields opened in 1989, will launch as an independent firm known as Oppenheim on 1 November, Freshfields announced internally last night (1 October). It will be a preferred firm but not part of the Freshfields network.
A Freshfields spokesperson denied the move was part of the £55m "Size and Shape" restructuring that has seen a swathe of partners leave the firm and said that it was a mutual decision between the firm and its Hungarian partners.
Ulrike Rein, a Budapest-based environmental partner who has been part of Freshfields' equity up until now, said: "We are all very enthusiastic about the opportunity of establishing a new brand in the Hungarian law firm market."
Oppenheim will have nine partners, made up of Rein and eight of the office's senior associates.
Freshfields now has 26 offices in 15 countries worldwide. Budapest is the second office in a year to leave Freshfields after the firm closed its Singapore operations in May to concentrate on mainland China and Hong Kong.
Linklaters had raided Freshfields’ Budapest office in late 2006 for two corporate specialists (see www.thelawyer.com, 11 December 2006). Ádám Máttyus, who was a counsel at Freshfields, became Linklaters’ head of corporate in Budapest. He was joined by managing associate Ottó Daróczi.