Olswang eyes Berlin for international push

Olswang eyes Berlin for international push” />Olswang is making a dramatic overhaul of its international strategy with the launch of its first-ever overseas office in Berlin in January.

The midsized City firm is opening in Germany in conjunction with its US ally, Miami-headquartered giant Greenberg Traurig.

The office will initially be staffed with a team of three former partners from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and EY Law and 10 German lawyers focusing on real estate and finance. The partners are Olswang partners, but the office will also operate as the Berlin outpost of Greenberg.

Olswang chief executive Jonathan Goldstein told The Lawyer: “Our international strategy is guided by what clients want us to do. We’ve got a high-quality team that was recommended to us by clients.

“We want to build the office out into the technology and media sectors to mirror what we do in the UK.”

Real estate and M&A partner Peter Diedrich joins Olswang from EY Law and will manage the office. He is joined by leading Freshfields environment and planning partner Dieter Neumann and his former colleague, partner Cord-Henning Brandes, who left Freshfields two years ago for a local boutique.

The team was planning to launch on its own before a client suggested it speak to Olswang.

However, Berlin has been a graveyard for UK firms in recent years, with firms such as Clifford Chance and Lovells closing their offices in the German capital.

“The people came first and the location second. It could have been Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt or even Hamburg,” said Goldstein.

Diedrich said: “This operation in Berlin should work as a bridge to Central and Eastern Europe. There’s not a better place for that. It’s becoming the most important centre for media. Sure, [the centre is] still Munich, but that’s changing, and for real estate Berlin is a very hot market.

“To start here does not exclude opening in other cities such as Munich or Hamburg.”

Olswang’s move comes as other midsized City firms are examining their international strategies. As reported by The Lawyer last week (20 November), SJ Berwin has committed itself to finding a group of US best friends and is exploring opportunities in Asia.