Taylor Wessing feud gifts Kirkpatrick 20-lawyer team

Taylor Wessing has been rocked by the departure of almost half of its 40-lawyer Berlin office after they quit for US firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

The details of the group hire are still emerging, but it is thought that around six partners and 16 lawyers in total will be leaving Taylor Wessing after a period of in-fighting.

Taylor Wessing’s managing partner for Germany Wolfgang Rehmann said the departures were the result of “a falling out” between the partners.

“Basically certain partners have not been able to get along for a while,” said Rehmann. “It is not a pleasant issue to deal with but is a fact of life.”

The group includes two real estate partners and specialists from Taylor Wessing’s corporate and media teams.

The catalyst for the exit was a contested election which lead to a change in the management of the Berlin office. This saw former international management board member and office head Ruediger von Huelst step down in favour of corporate partner Konstantin Graf Lambsdorff. Von Huelst is understood to be leading the group to Kirkpatrick.

The timing of the exits is still being negotiated, although it is possible all 16 will be gone before the end of the year. The Berlin office currently has around 40 fee earners in total.

Kirpatrick has made no secret of its desire to expand its operations aggressively. On 1 January 2007 the firm will celebrate the second anniversary of its takeover of London mid-sizer Nicholson Graham & Jones, while in October it revealed it was in talks with Seattle-based Preston Gates & Ellis.

The latter deal, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year, would see the creation of a 1,400-lawyer firm with a significant presence in Asia and the US west coast.

Kirkpatrick had been in talks over the summer with Salans, a deal that would have given it a network of Central and Eastern European offices. It now appears Kirkpatrick has decided to attack the Continental market jurisdiction by jurisdiction, beginning with Germany.