It is understood that the US firm plans to launch in Munich early in the New Year, to run alongside its existing offices in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Kirchner, previously joint head of corporate in Germany at Ashurst, will head up Latham’s new office, supported by tax partner Stephan Süß and employment partner Claudia Heins, who also move across from Ashurst.
The raid on Ashurst leaves the silver circle firm with only two partners, litigator Karl Wach and IP/IT specialist Manja Epping, on the ground in its Munich office. The firm is now likely to run its German operations out of Frankfurt.
The losses follow that of Kirchner’s number two, rising corporate star Andreas Hoffmann, who left Ashurst in April to join the in-house team at GE.
Latham’s has not previously had a strong private equity capability in Germany. Kirchner’s experience includes advising key Latham client Carlyle Group. He also has a longstanding relationship with Bain Capital, most recently advising on its aborted €1.4bn attempted acquisition of Ruhrgas AG.
Latham & Watkins declined to comment.