Slaughter and May’s German best friend Hengeler Mueller has suffered a rare partner departure with a Munich corporate lawyer defecting to US firm Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.
Wolfgang Grobecker (pictured), a corporate M&A partner, joined the US firm’s corporate advisory practice on 1 January. The hire takes the number of partners in Milbank’s German practice to 11, with a total of 36 lawyers in the country.
Grobecker, who specialises in corporate law with a particular focus on corporate advisory work, had spent his entire legal career at Hengeler, joining the firm in 2000 and making partner in 2005.
He was one of three founding partners of Hengeler’s Munich office, setting up the base alongside Achim Herfs and Gerhard Lang in 2006. That launch saw the firm break with tradition to make a lateral hire, taking on Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Hans-Jörg Ziegenhain to bolster the office just a month after it opened its doors (6 February 2006).
It is thought that this is the first time a partner has left Hengeler for a rival firm since the German heavyweight was formed via the 1990 merger between Düsseldorf-based Hengeler Kurth Wirtz and Frankfurt firm Mueller Weitzel Weisner.
Grobecker said he had made the move because he believes Milbank’s international approach will make it easier to attract clients.
“I enjoy working on international projects and I felt that they’ve been on the decline at Hengeler and on the rise at Milbank,” he said. “Milbank’s international business was an important reason.”
At Milbank Grobecker joins a relatively new practice: the firm’s Munich corporate advisory practice was founded in 2004 by partners Norbert Rieger, Ulrike Friese-Dormann and Christoph Rothenfusser.
The US firm’s German practice focuses on providing corporate advice to listed companies, including the preparation and coaching of annual shareholders’ meetings, corporate litigation and appraisal proceedings following corporate reorganisations.
In addition to its Munich office, the firm has a presence in Frankfurt.