Debevoise sets up Frankfurt office with two partner hires

New York-based law firm Debevoise & Plimpton has recruited two new partners to set up an office in Frankfurt, providing it with a German presence for the first time.

Corporate partner Thomas Schürrle joined Debevoise at the beginning of May from German firm Nörr Stiefenhofer Lutz. He will focus on international M&A.

Tax partner Friedrich Hey, who will join the firm in August from the New York office of Oppenhoff & Rädler Linklaters & Alliance, will advise on the tax side of cross-border transactions.

The Frankfurt office, which is due to open in July, will be headed by partner Hans Bertram-Nothnagel, who will relocate from New York and subsequently divide his time between the two offices.

He will be joined by partners Marcia MacHarg and David Hickok, who will relocate from Washington and Paris respectively.

Schürrle says that he moved to Debevoise because of its reputation in M&A, particularly in relation to private equity.

He says: “Although I was doing private equity-related transactions at Nörr, I wasn’t doing the same amount of cross-border work.

“Debevoise has a longstanding history of doing M&A work in Europe, and this new office will allow the firm to cover all of the European jurisdictions.”

Frankfurt will be Debevoise’s third Western European office, after the firm opened in Paris in 1964 and in London more than 20 years ago.

Debevoise is a typical New York firm, known for its general corporate work. But with 400 of its 480 lawyers based in New York, its international presence remains small. Most of its clients in Europe are US clients investing abroad.

Frankfurt will be modelled on Paris and its focus will be on M&A and capital markets. However, Bertram-Nothnagel does not rule out future expansion. “In Europe, we need to have a leg in the three major financial centres and the Frankfurt office gives us that third leg,” he says. “Our German presence will be similar to London and Paris, but in London we also do litigation. This was a consciously-taken step and not one that has yet been planned for Germany.”

The firm also has offices in Hong Kong and Moscow.