Linklaters rejig drives out Cologne real estate chief

Linklaters has refocused its German real estate practice to handle only high-value international or European transactional work, a move which has led to the departure of the head of the firm’s Cologne real estate team.

Linklaters German managing partner Marcus Hartung told The Lawyer: “It doesn’t make sense for us to do local and regional business.”

Cologne partner Hans Busch has left as part of the strategic realignment. He will set up his own firm where he will take his local client base.

Linklaters will refer low-value or local work to Busch’s spun off practice. The magic circle firm recently adopted a similar strategy in Hong Kong, where the head of intellectual property (IP) Rebecca Lo left to set up her own firm. Lo had a varied client portfolio, but essentially much of her work was too low-value to fit in with Linklaters’ strategic view of IP as primarily a corporate support function.

Hartung said that Busch’s departure was entirely amicable and that Busch wanted to continue acting for his legacy Oppenhoff & Rädler clients, which was impossible inside the Linklaters structure. He said: “You have to acknowledge that these international law firms need a certain client perspective and partners who want to do that work.”

There are no plans to replace Busch with a lateral hire, neither are there any plans to make up an associate. Effectively the practice has been significantly trimmed – there is just one other real estate partner in Cologne. Hartung said the firm would see how the Cologne practice develops before introducing any new partners. None of the Cologne associates left with Busch, leaving the office highly geared.