Graf von Westphalen Frankfurt partner quits for Willkie Farr

Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest’s Frankfurt office is losing one of its top IT partners to US firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Katharina Scheja and two associates will join Willkie Farr’s Frankfurt office at the beginning of July.

Scheja joins IT and corporate partner Thomas Heymann and telecoms partner Sven-Erik Heun, who left Clifford Chance Pünder to set up the office last October.

The move will consolidate Wilkie Farr’s relationship with Microsoft, which is a client of both Scheja and Heymann. It also reunites Scheja, Heymann and Heun, who have worked together before at Clifford Chance and before that at Wessing & Berenberg-Gossler.

On the IT side, Scheja will advise on systems integration projects and outsourcing agreements. On the intellectual property (IP) side she will do everything from copyrights to litigation.

Her appointment will allow Heymann to develop the M&A and private equity capability. “I’ll take over Heymann’s side of the IP/IT practice, which will allow him to build the corporate side,” she says.

Heun says: “The idea is to focus on new economy work as well as private equity. We want to be able to work for IT, telecoms and media companies from all angles. We want to be able to do regulatory work as well as M&A, capital markets and private equity.”

The move is consistent with the firm’s strategy in the US and Paris, where there is a strong focus on private equity and new economy work.

Historically, the firm handles leveraged buyout work and M&A, but more recently it has developed a technology, media & telecoms and capital markets capability.

Last October, François Bloch, Clifford Chance’s head of communication and technologies in Paris, joined Willkie Farr’s Paris office (The Lawyer, 3 July 2000).

The move is a blow for Graf von Westphalen’s Frankfurt office because Scheja is taking a number of clients with her, including Microsoft.

Scheja leaves Graf von Westphalen’s Frankfurt office as it is due to split from the rest of the firm following a dispute over the integration process of the firm’s old alliance partner Osborne Clarke (The Lawyer, 18 December 2000).

It is believed that the remaining 14 partners will stay together following their departure from the rest of the firm at the end of the year.