Linklaters' European plans hung in the balance this weekend as the partners of leading German firm Oppenhoff & RAdler decided whether to join the other four members of the Alliance of European Lawyers in a merger with the City firm.
If Oppenhoff agrees then Linklaters' partners will vote this week and are likely to confirm the creation of the world's largest legal federation.
French firm Jeantet & Asssocies is already out of the alliance due to disagreements with Linklaters' Paris office over who dominates in France.
The other surviving alliance members – Ur'a & Menendez in Spain, Lagerlof & Leman in Sweden, De Bandt van Hecke & Lagae in Belgium and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Netherlands – have already given the go-ahead to the deal.
As The Lawyer went to press the result of the vote was unknown but it is clear that some partners at Oppenhoff – in particular in the Munich office – have expressed concerns over the deal. Oppenhoff's Frankfurt office already hosts Linklaters partners and lawyers but the Munich office, which joined Oppenhoff in a merger two years ago when it was then RAdler Raupach, is more removed from the deal.
One concern is the detail of arrangements for each firm to contribute profits to a centralised financial structure.
A 30-page document has been drawn up, outlining in principle the profit-sharing structure of the new firm, with revenue from each firm being contributed to a central holding company.
But specific details – such as the most tax efficient place and way to set up the holding company – have yet to be finalised.
A minority vote against the deal could lead to lawyers splitting off from Oppenhoff & RAdler, much in the same way as happened when several partners left the firm after Frankfurt-based Boden Oppenhoff Rasor Raue merged with RAdler Raupach Bezzenberger.
Linklaters' Paris office will continue to operate in the short term as the Alliance's French law capability but it is understood that the Alliance members have insisted that Jeantet will be replaced by another French firm.
The Lawyer understands that Paris firm Rambaud Martel has been short-listed by the Alliance and Linklaters.