Willkie returns for Schmidt’s CC team

Willkie Farr & Gallagher has launched a secondary raid on Clifford Chance as the US firm poaches five private equity lawyers from the magic circle firm’s Frankfurt office.

The team is following former Clifford Chance corporate partner Mario Schmidt, who left the magic circle firm to join Willkie earlier this year.

Former Clifford Chance counsel Rolf Hünermann and associate Stefan Jörgens joined the Willkie’s Frankfurt office earlier this week. Both joined as national partners.

In April, they will be joined by fellow Clifford Chance counsel Andreas Hautkappe, who will also join Willkie as a national partner. Clifford Chance associates Ole Oldenburg and Ingo Bednarz are also set to join Willkie.

Private equity specialist Schmidt, who became a partner of the magic circle firm back in 2002, had advised on high profile mandates including advising private equity house Permira on its acquisition of Unilever’s frozen foods’ business.

Fellow Clifford Chance corporate partner Georg Linde, who was also set to leave the firm for Willkie, along with Schmidt, decided to stay at Clifford Chance.

The Clifford Chance Frankfurt private equity team is now left with nine partners and around 20 counsel and associates.

Christopher Kellett, head of the German private equity practice said: “We regret they are leaving, but even without them the Clifford Chance private equity team is outstanding – we have clearly established ourselves as a market leader, not only in Germany, but across Europe and beyond, with a broad range of long-term client relationships.”