Wessing in crisis as four more jump ship

Andersen Luther becomes refuge for Wessing teams as internal dissent sparks more walkouts

Embattled German law firm Wessing is losing four more partners to Andersen Legal’s German arm Andersen Luther as dissension within the Düsseldorf office grows.`M&A partner Alexander Schröder-Frerkes and competition and energy partner Jan Byok are joining Andersens’ Düsseldorf office. They will be joined by IT partners Christian Harmsen and Felix Noediger and eight associates.`Schröder-Frerkes and Byok are well-known names in the market and their move will be seen as another indication of the split between those who want Wessing to remain independent and those who want to merge.`The moves follow the announcement that Wessing is losing its former chairman Wolfgang von Meibom and intellectual property (IP) partners Klaus-Jürgen Michaeli and Maximiliane Stöckel to Andersens (The Lawyer, 21 May).`A press statement issued by Wessing in May said that there would be no further departures following von Meibom’s announcement. But the evidence is now to the contrary.`Andersens currently has only three partners in Düsseldorf and has so far lacked the profile that it needs to attract the big clients. Its three core areas are corporate, banking and finance, and IP and telecoms and the arrivals from Wessing build on two of those three areas.`One of Schröder-Frerkes’ biggest clients is the airline Lufthansa, which he is expected to take with him.`Byok’s focus is on public procurement and his arrival will give Andersens a visible presence in competition law.`Wessing is one of the last leading independent law firms in Germany and despite its links with a number of firms including Andersen Legal, Bird & Bird, Eversheds, Nabarro Nathanson and Theodore Goddard, it has yet to secure a merger.`Relations within the firm hit rock bottom when von Meibom stepped down as chairman in March following accusations that his interests no longer represented those of the firm.`In Germany, Andersen Luther has offices in Berlin, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.