Sidley considers closing Frankfurt office

Sidley Austin has put its Frankfurt office under review after a spate of partner exits left the base with a handful of lawyers and just one partner. 

The US firm confirmed that its Frankfurt base, its only office in Germany, is being reviewed by the firm’s management. The office opened in 2006 with legacy Lovells duo Jens Rinze and Oliver Kessler. 

However Sidley Austin started losing its Frankfurt-based partners in 2012, when regional managing partner Oliver Kessler quit to open a Frankfurt outpost for German firm Oppenhoff & Partner (18 October 2012). Corporate partner Jérôme Friedrich followed Kessler to Oppenhoff in July (13 July 2013).   

Capital markets specialist Jens Rinze is now the only partner left in Sidley’s Frankfurt base, a size that matches US firm Fried Frank’s Frankfurt office which also has one partner left. Like Sidley, the firm also saw its founding Frankfurt partner leave in 2012, when Sven Schulte-Hillen joined Dechert (19 March 2012).

Germany has proved to be a difficult market for a number of US firms. Shearman & Sterling closed down two-thirds of its German office network last April (23 April 2013), with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton taking advantage of the downsizing by hiring Frankfurt litigation partner Richard Kreindler (2 July 2013). 

It is not yet clear if the office is going to transfer to another firm or close outright.

In a statement Sidley Austin European region managing partner George Petrow, said: “We are reviewing a number of alternatives in relation to our four-lawyer Frankfurt office and are seeking the solution that will best serve the interests of our clients and staff.”