Failure to grow London sparks Haarmanns loss

Birch has left on good terms and told The Lawyer that he thought the German firm’s long-term strategy was sound. However, he said he “grew to be frustrated” that Haarmanns had failed to recruit more London partners, adding: “I certainly wasn’t alone in my frustration.”

The firm opened in London in 1999 and Birch was one of the founding partners. He said: “We started with a corporate and tax focus and intended to add more sectors.”

But the firm has had little success in building up its seven-partner office.

One source close to Haarmanns said the firm had a couple of excellent laterals in the pipeline, at least one of which is very close to approval. However, the firm has lost out on several laterals at the last minute, partly because of the cumbersome recruitment process whereby all hires have to be approved in advance by Germany.

Birch, a respected corporate lawyer, has moved to the London office of Pinsent Curtis Biddle. As a fluent German speaker he will liaise with Pinsents’ German best friend Hoffmann Liebs Fritsch & Partner.