Osborne Clarke continues European expansion with Hamburg launch

Osborne Clarke has taken a further step towards expanding its European network with an opening in Hamburg.

The firm has made a number of hires and will launch in the German city – one of Northern Europe’s most economically influential – with four partners.

Christopher Torwegge joins from Hamburg-based trade and production group CREMER, where he was head of legal. Having trained with Osborne Clarke in Cologne, he will head the new office.

He is joined by former consultant and ex-president of Hamburg University of Economics and Political Sciences Professor Norbert Aust, ex-White & Case employment lawyer David Plitt and specialist energy lawyer Isabella Niklas, who was at boutique firm WKN.

Two new associates have also joined the team: Thorsten Behle, who joins with Niklas, and Sebastian Stütze, who joins with Plitt.

The launch brings Osborne Clarke’s total presence in Germany to 34 partners across offices in Cologne, Munich and Hamburg.

The firm’s strategy is to expand its sector approach across the market, with Niklas focusing on renewable energy projects and transactional work and the other new partners bringing in expertise in automotive and transport, digital business, healthcare and life sciences, real estate and infrastructure and retail.

Plitt and Stütze are also known for their employment law capabilities and Torwegge for international trade and shipping.

German managing partner Stefan Rizor said: “Hamburg’s a strategically important base for Osborne Clarke: it’s the most important North European commercial centre and acts as a gateway to Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic regions. This is a real opportunity for us to leverage our sector expertise in a new market, where energy companies, digital businesses and transportation providers in particular are growing rapidly.

“We’ve been growing organically in Germany for more than 10 years, expanding our Cologne and Munich offices through lateral hire programmes. Our new office in Hamburg gives us a presence in Northern Germany in addition to our presence in Western and Southern regions. It also gives us a greater national presence, allowing us to offer our clients services across a much larger geographical area.

“The Hamburg legal market has traditionally been a closed shop, and given that around 10,000 companies have relocated to the city recently, year on year, some new competition is long overdue.”

Torwegge added: “The firm has ambitious international growth plans and a sector-focused team that has in-depth experience of working in Northern Europe is going to be very attractive to businesses in Hamburg.”

Osborne Clarke recently announced plans to switch to a December financial year-end for internal purposes as part of a move to integrate its expanded European operations (15 October 2012).

In the last financial year, the firm merged with its Spanish and Italian alliance partners as it continues to consolidate across the Continent.

The firm has also been linked to a TMT New York launch (1 October 2012) and a Brussels opening prompted by Field Fisher Waterhouse merger talks, with a Paris launch thought to be in the final stages (28 September 2012).

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan opened in Hamburg in May (1 May 2012).