Wilkie Farr hires Fried Frank’s Michael Schlitt

Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Frankfurt office has damaged Fried Frank’s German presence with a star partner hire.

Equity capital markets partner Michael Schlitt will join Willkie with as many may be joined by up to six of his capital markets associates, who are still in negotiations.

Willkie Frankfurt corporate partner Mario Schmidt said: “Our goal is to become the leading German transactional boutique. We will not become a Clifford or a Hengeler [Mueller], but we want to be a speedboat with great people – an alternative to the large firms.”

Willkie’s German practice currently numbers around 30 lawyers but Schmidt said that he wanted to grow to 80 to 100 lawyers within two years.

Schlitt’s previous client instructions have included Citi, Credit Suisse, Dresdner Kleinwort, Morgan Stanley, UBS, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch and other large financial institutions.

Schlitt’s departure will leave Fried Frank with only two partners in its German office in Frankfurt: corporate partners Sven Schulte-Hillen and Juergen van Kann. If the six capital markets associates will also join Willkie, the two Fried Frank Frankfurt partners will be assisted by only seven associates.