Linklaters Cologne breaks free to launch Oppenhoff & Partner

Linklaters.jpg” alt=”Linklaters Cologne breaks free to launch Oppenhoff & Partner” />Linklaters’ abandoned Cologne operation will relaunch independently as Oppenhoff & Partner.

The new firm will house 11 partners and 41 fee-earners and will focus on commercial, corporate and tax work. It will be led by Michael Oppenhoff, son of the late Walter Oppenhoff, who gave the firm its name, and Michael Abels. Respected corporate partner Georg Maier-Reimer will also join, along with eight others.

Oppenhoff commented: “We are all very much looking forward to practising in a more personal environment, offering our employees a new, promising perspective and shaking off some of the pressures of a global firm.”

Maier-Reimer said that the firm hopes to offer a tailored service to mid-size enterprise, an especially important sector of the German economy, which a firm like Linklaters is less able to offer.

Linklaters partner Michael Lappe commented: “We wish Oppenhoff & Partner all the best and look forward to a continued amicable relationship with them.”

Linklaters announced in September 2007 that it would dismantle its historic Cologne outfit and move to Düsseldorf. Eleven Linklaters partners had not agreed to the move and were expected to leave the firm, which the firm claimed was due to “strategic differences”. Most of these will set up Oppenhoff & Partner on 1 January 2008, co-habiting in the current Linklaters Cologne office at least until then.

Four loyal Cologne partners have already set up the new Linklaters office in Düsseldorf under the helm of ex-Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate rainmakers Ralph Wollburg und Achim Kirchfeld. A further six Linklaters Cologne partners are to follow by the end of the year. The Dusseldorf office expects to house about 50 fee-earners.

In September Wollburg and Kirchfeld were lured from Freshfields by Linklaters with an off-lockstep deal that heralded a sea-change in Linklaters’ German partnership remuneration, which historically only lay at around 70 per cent of English levels.

Freshfields has reacted to the loss of their two heavyweights Wollburg and Kirchfeld by promoting Düsseldorf corporate senior associate Stephan Waldhausen to partnership, amidst fears that Waldhausen would follow his former team-leaders to Linklaters. It is understood that Linklaters’ overtures had also extended to several other Freshfields associates and partners but that they have not been successful.