Norton Rose’s Cologne team gears up for defection to CMS

Norton Rose may be on the verge of losing its entire Cologne office as its partners accelerate talks with CMS Hasche Sigle.

It is understood that all 17 Cologne-based partners are considering the move to CMS Hasche Sigle, which is in the process of conducting due diligence on its potential new recruits.

The Cologne contingent has been part of Norton Rose for only four years, after breaking away from Gaedertz in 2000. Since then, the office has sustained heavy lawyer losses, with nine mainly property and construction partners leaving in 2002.

CMS Hasche Sigle has nine offices in Germany, but these do not include a Cologne presence. With the Norton Rose partners, CMS Hasche Sigle could bolster its coverage in the industrial Rhineland area, which at the moment consists of only a Düsseldorf office.
Norton Rose’s global head of corporate finance Tim Marsden said: “It’s not appropriate to comment at this stage.”

CMS Hasche Sigle declined to comment.

Unlike Frankfurt and Munich, which focus mainly on corporate finance and banking, Norton Rose’s Cologne office houses a number of practice areas including IP, which is being restructured. The IP group is being rolled into the firm’s communications, media and technology group (CMT), affecting three London-based partners and, it is understood, four partners in Cologne.

Former IP group leader Rosalind Messer will work within the CMT group, which has also brought together its corporate and commercial practices under one umbrella.