Cleary swoops on Linklaters for second office in Germany

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is set to shake up the German legal market by opening its second regional office in Cologne.

Cleary’s new Cologne office will officially open on 10 November when high-profile antitrust lateral Dirk Schroeder joins the firm from Linklaters, as exclusively revealed by The Lawyer (3 November). The office adds to Cleary’s Frankfurt branch.

Joining Schroeder in Cologne is antitrust lawyer Romina Polley, who also joins from Linklaters, where she was a junior partner. Polley gains equity partnership on her move to Cleary.

Schroeder and Polley are the second and third partner level lateral hires Cleary has made in Germany, after tax partner Gottfried Breuninger was recruited in 2000. Also from Linklaters Oppenhoff & Rädler, Breuninger left less than a year later for Shearman & Sterling, due to a client conflict situation.

Cleary is hoping the Cologne launch will reap dividends for both the M&A and antitrust practices.

Thomas Buhl and Stephan Barthelmess, two of Cleary’s star partners, will  split their time between Frankfurt and Cologne. Although Barthelmess is an antitrust expert, he also acts on M&A and private equity deals.

The Federal Antitrust Authority, or Bundeskart-ellamt, is located nearby in Bonn, which has become increasingly important as Europe moves away from European Commission centralisation, and antitrust and competition partner Wolfgang Knapp is relocating from Brussels to Cologne.