German firm Seelig & Preu Bohlig is in merger talks with the Frankfurt offices of Graf von Westphalen and Commercial Law Affiliates (CLA) member Knauthe Paul Schmitt.
A merger agreement between Seelig and the two breakaway Frankfurt offices could create a new German member for the CLA network, which currently has Knauthe Paul as its German member. However, it is understood that the remaining offices of Knauthe in Munich and Berlin are also keen to stay within the network. Earlier this year, Knauthe was raided by former CLA member Hammond Suddards Edge, which hired four of the firm’s Berlin partners and one Munich partner to launch its own offices in Germany (The Lawyer, 19 February). Graf von Westphalen is the former German ally of Osborne Clarke. The Frankfurt office decided to split from the rest of the firm late last year before the rest of the firm broke off its alliance with Osborne Clarke. If a new, stronger German firm replaces Knauthe within the CLA, its appeal to a potential UK member could be increased. CLA was left with no UK representative when Hammonds pulled out a year ago after a disagreement over the speed of integration. Talks are understood to be ongoing with potential UK replacements. The merger between the two Frankfurt offices is expected to go live in January 2002, creating a 19-partner practice particularly strong in technology, media, intellectual property and banking. Seelig is also well known for IP work and is a member of the Technology Lawyers Consortium. Seelig would add offices in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf to the new firm. Partners at both Seelig and Graf von Westphalen said they were unable to confirm or deny talks between the Frankfurt offices and Seelig. Knauthe Paul was unavailable to comment as The Lawyer went to press.