A&O launches in Düsseldorf with former Freshfields boss

Allen & Overy (A&O) has continued its aggressive expansion plans by opening a Düsseldorf office with a former German managing partner from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

This is the third office A&O has opened in six weeks, following launches in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

A&O’s Düsseldorf offering will be spearheaded by corporate partner Thomas Austmann, who was formerly Düsseldorf managing partner at Freshfields, according to German legal magazine Juve. Austmann left Freshfields in March after serving a three-year term as office managing partner that finished in 2006.

Neil Weiand, senior partner for Germany at A&O, said: “Dusseldorf is associated with heavyweight German corporates like E.ON, which is already a client of the firm. We also see great potential in linking up with our office in Mannheim as an axis for IP litigation.”

The firm has just hired IP partner Marcus Grosch for its Mannheim office.

Düsseldorf will be A&O’s fourth German office after Frankfurt, Hamburg and Mannheim. It is expected to go live in October and more hires are expected by the end of the year.

A&O managing partner David Morley had told The Lawyer as early as December 2006 that bulking up in Germany was a strategic priority for 2007. Strengthening the firm’s corporate capability there was particularly important, he said (The Lawyer, 18 December 2006).

A&O, unlike the other magic circle firms, chose not to merge with a large German firm. Instead it has pursued a slow organic strategy up until now. With the addition of Austmann the firm will still have around 20 corporate partners in Germany compared with Clifford Chance‘s 45.