Managing partners: Christian Berger and Markus Figgen
Total number of partners: 19
Total number of lawyers: 65
Main practice areas: Corporate and tax, banking and finance, IP, competition and communications
Key clients: Bastei-Lübbe, Group 4 Falck Securicor, Merck, Telco, TeliaSonera
Number of offices: Seven
Locations: Berlin, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich
“We were not too old to try something new, but not so young as to appear ridiculous.” This is managing partner Christian Berger’s reasoning for the decision to call his new law firm Avocado. In addition to the unusual name, the firm even has the tagline ‘Vitamins for the economy’.
Avocado is one of the three firms to emerge from the split of Arcon in 2004. Part of the reason for the split was the lack of financial integration at the firm, with partners receiving different systems of remuneration.
Despite dividing into three, Berger claims the process was amicable. “There was no dispute about the split. It was agreed upon and went very smoothly,” he says.
Avocado inherited a big chunk of Arcon’s offices, setting up in Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Hamburg. Not surprisingly for a firm with a client list that includes a large selection of media and technology companies, Avocado added its name to the growing list of firms setting up in Munich by opening an office in the Bavarian capital in March.
Berger and his team have clear goals for Avocado. The split left the new firm with a team of 65 lawyers, which Berger wants to increase to 100. “With that level of lawyers, we’d have a more visible presence,” he says.
To reflect the firm’s core strengths, the hires will be across all of Avocado’s offices, but with an emphasis on boosting its banking and IP/IT capabilities. It recently raided Büsing Müffelmann & Theye for corporate and banking partner Udo Zietsch, who has specialist knowledge of electronic payment systems.
Other key practice areas for the firm include labour litigation and real estate, while the Brussels office focuses on antitrust and European and public commercial law.
Berger also sees the establishment of an international network of best friends as important to Avocado’s future. He repeats the mantra of all Mittelstand firms that independence is important. However, Berger also realises that relationships with foreign firms are important for building up the business.
“When we were still Arcon we had lots of best friends and we now need to set about building up a best friends network at Avocado,” he says.
Berger highlights the UK, the US, France, Benelux and Eastern Europe as key jurisdictions in which the firm needs to develop relationships.
And Avocado’s name? Berger says that, in the end, the clients do not care either way. His argument is that, internally, it has helped to foster an innovative and forward-thinking culture, which he believes will be key to its success.