The Frankfurt office of Graf von Westphalen Fritze & Modest, Osborne Clarke OWA's German ally, is splitting from the rest of the firm.
The firm's 15-partner Frankfurt office, formerly known as Fritze Weigel Bornemann Arnold Kelm, will leave the firm by the end of 2001 although it is not known where the lawyers are going.
The move comes during Graf von Westphalen's integration with its UK alliance partner, Osborne Clarke, and following the announcement that the German firm will merge with regional Freiburg firm Bappert Witz & Selbherr (The Lawyer, 25 September).
According to a source, the Frankfurt office disagrees with the rest of the firm about how to conduct the merger with Osborne Clarke. "The profit sharing system and the strategy are the main points of dissension," he says.
But the source says that the dispute was caused by internal disagreement within Graf von Westphalen and had nothing to do with Osborne Clarke.
Following the integration, Graf von Westphalen will have just one full-time partner in Frankfurt who will come from Osborne Clarke. The firm's senior partner Friedrich Graf von Westphalen says that the restructure and the merger will allow the firm to expand its corporate finance, transactional, IT and biotech practices.
"Our focus will remain very much on meeting the domestic and international requirements of international technology, media and telecoms businesses and the Mittelstand," he says.
Osborne Clarke's managing partner Leslie Perrin says the firm has done a large amount of transactional and IT work with Graf von Westphalen's Cologne office over the last 12 months. "The deals we've done are proof that the German market welcomes this focus," he says.