Noerr boss vows that planned London office is ‘no threat’ to UK partner firms

The managing partner of German firm Noerr, which earlier this month announced its plans to open an office in London, has insisted that the move will not interfere with its ­relationships with UK firms.


Tobias Bürgers
Tobias Bürgers

Noerr’s City office will open in autumn this year (TheLawyer.com, 11 March). The firm says it will not advise on UK law, rather that the new office will be a hub for its UK, US, India, China and Central and ­Eastern European clients and will focus on M&A, banking, restructuring, media, insurance and ­litigation.

“I think our office, which we plan to open in October 2010, will strengthen our relationships with the other firms we work with,” said Noerr co-managing ­partner Tobias Bürgers. “We ­discussed it with some of them and all were in favour of the move. It improves our situation when we have to give evidence that we work seamlessly with firms. What better than to turn up at a meeting in London together?”

Noerr is best-known for its close relationship with Macfarlanes, with the firms operating as best friends between 1989 and 1993 and even sharing an office in Brussels (Bürgers worked at ­Macfarlanes for six months during the 1990s).

But Noerr appears to have expanded the group of firms it works with, which now includes Addleshaw Goddard, Clyde & Co, SJ Berwin, ­Slaughter and May and Travers Smith.

The firm’s decision to open in London came just months after the 450-lawyer firm renamed itself Noerr (it was formerly Nörr Stiefenhofer Lutz) and restructured itself as a UK LLP.

“This is because more than a third of our clients are international,” said Bürgers. “Our clients come from the US and India and this change reflects better what we do. The LLP is a very good structure for a professional services firm.

“In Germany there is a similar structure, which is the Partnerschaftsgesellschaft, but we chose the LLP because it has certain advantages over the German model in terms of tax, and also in terms of partnership ­liability restrictions. So an LLP is the best form for a professional services firm that’s partner-driven but international.”

But Noerr is not the only firm with a non-UK heritage to have changed its ­structure to a UK LLP. ­Others include Hamburg firm Jebens Mensching and Munich firm Wach & ­Meckes.

And Bürgers added that after his firm decided to ­register as an LLP there were plenty more interested parties considering ­following suit.

“I can only say that after we’d gone public with the LLP we had a couple of very interesting conversations with managing partners of large firms saying that it was good to hear that we’d made the move and asking what finally persuaded us to do it,” he said.

Noerr has five offices in Germany – in Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich; and seven in CEE – Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Kiev, Moscow, Prague and Warsaw. The firm also has a representative office in New York.