Ashurst Morris Crisp has lost German finance partner Rainer Eichholz after only six months at the firm

Eichholz, a lateral hire from Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, was expected to spearhead Ashursts' drive into German structured finance. However, he unexpectedly quit Ashursts' Frankfurt office last week.

The loss of Eichholz, an investment banker and lawyer, throws into doubt Ashursts' tactic of hiring from the banks to bolster its finance practice. German managing partner Wulf Merkel conceded: “We have no intention to replace Rainer in as far as he's a combination of lawyer and investment banker.”

Merkel refused to comment on the reasons for the departure and it is not clear whether he will return to investment banking or move to another law firm. It leaves a gap in Ashursts' acquisition and structured finance departments and the German private equity practice that the firm hopes to grow.

Merkel said the firm very much wanted to hire German lawyers to bolster these practices, but the Eichholz saga points to the difficulties that Ashursts will face in trying to grow organically in a very competitive market for lateral hires.