Osborne Clarke resigns from the Legal Resources Group

Leading German law firm Bruckhaus Westrick Stegemann is set to create the largest legal practice in the German-speaking world when it merges with top Austrian firm Heller Lober Bahn & Partners early in 1998.

The firms claim the move is the first full cross-border merger between German and Austrian law firms. Both firms are already among the top three in their respective countries.

The new firm Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Lober will have 13 offices in nine countries and will be staffed by 270 lawyers, with over 60 joining from the Austrian firm.

Bruckhaus Dusseldorf-based partner Gunter Beckmann, part of the new firm's management committee, said: “Focusing our strengths in central Europe will provide us with a foundation for expanded business in western Europe and in regions with Anglo-American legal traditions.”

Heinz Lober, co-founder of the Austrian firm, said the merger was part of an ongoing process of international expansion and would enable the new firm to concentrate on other legal markets such as eastern Europe.

Partners at both firms said they anticipated taking an increasingly prominent role in large cross-border transactions.