Smaller is better for European boutique founders

Leaving a major law firm to launch a boutique is becoming so commonplace now that it is an accepted career move for a partner or senior associate at a large player. 

And boutiques are springing up weekly across Europe. In fact in the last fortnight there have been three launches – two in Germany and one in Sweden.

In Germany, the decision of King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin to close its Berlin office after a strategic review sparked the departure of corporate venture capital partners Frank Vogel and Jan Dirk Heerma, who are setting up a boutique. Berlin was not an area of focus for the Asian powerhouse, but Vogel and Heerma arguably have plenty of opportunity to build a strong little firm in the country’s technology centre.

Meanwhile over in Cologne, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer arbitration partner Christian Borris has blamed conflicts for his decision to quit the magic circle firm to go it alone. He is taking Frankfurt-based Freshfields lawyers Sebastian Kneisel and Rudolph Hennecke to launch Borris Hennecke Kneisel in May.

Alternative strategies were the keyword in Stockholm, where four partners and six associates from Bird & Bird have split off to set up a boutique aimed at start-up companies. The snappily-named Synch is all about flexibility and innovation, and will ditch the ‘partner’ title for its lawyers.

As international firms keep on growing, expect more boutiques to spring up across Europe.

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