Herbies adds Berlin to German expansion plan

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) is to open offices in Berlin and Frankfurt in its first move into the German market as a standalone firm.

The firm last month secured the hire of a partner from former alliance partner Gleiss Lutz to help launch the Frankfurt base (13 February 2013). That office is intended to initially service existing corporate and financial services clients with operations in Germany, but will be extended to a full-service base over time.

Partner Ralf Thaeter, who specialises in domestic and cross border M&A, officially joined HSF yesterday (1 April). However, the new base is not expected to open until later in the second quarter of 2013.

HSF is yet to make a formal hire in Berlin, but said that office would focus on corporate and regulatory work.

“Our recruitment efforts are continuing and we hope to be able to announce the appointment of additional partners in the coming months,” Patrick Mitchell, partner and co-global head of HSF corporate said in a statement.

HSF has been looking to open an office in Germany since the collapse of its alliance with Gleiss and Benelux firm Stibbe at the beginning of 2012 (24 November 2011).

News of the move into Germany was first revealed by The Lawyer last February, when the firm put launches in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich at the top of its agenda (10 February 2012). The firm is yet to make any formal announcement about offices in Düsseldorf and Munich.

The firm set up a committee chaired by Marshall to oversee the plans, with fellow London corporate partner Alan Montgomery also on the team as a project manager.

Jonathan Scott
Jonathan Scott

HSF senior partner Jonathan Scott said the office openings would be an important milestone for firm, adding that they were “the latest step in our plans to develop our global presence”.

In September the firm opened in New York (3 July 2012) with London-based international arbitration partner Chris Parker relocating to the city. The firm hired a group of six litigation partners from Chadbourne & Parke, including litigation chief Thomas Riley, for the move (2 August 2012).

In London, however, the firm has suffered a series of high-profile departures. Most recently litigation partner Ted Greeno announced his exit for US outfit Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (27 March 2013).

Other exits have included Tokyo head Steve Lewis, who went to Bingham (29 June 2012), City corporate partner Will Pearce, who resigned for Davis Polk & Wardwell (12 November 2012), and finance partner Jason Fox, who left for Bracewell & Giuliani (5 March 2013). China M&A head Simon Meng quit last summer and resurfaced at King & Wood Mallesons’ Shanghai base (12 July 2012).