PwC offshoot Schindhelm plans foreign expansion

German firm Schindhelm is preparing to launch offices in Shanghai and Bucharest just weeks after it announced its separation from PwC Legal (formerly Landwell Germany).

The firm, which deals predominantly with middle market German companies, is opening the offices in response to client demand and market conditions.

Managing partner Heiko Hellwege told The Lawyer: “We don’t see any room for growth in the German market and many of our clients are operating in Shanghai and Bucharest and asked us to follow them.”

The firm plans to open in Shanghai in December or January, with the Bucharest office following shortly afterwards. Each is to be staffed with a two-lawyer team comprising one partner and one associate drawn from the domestic market. “We’re confident that we can make an announcement about our choice of lawyers in the next few weeks,” said Hellwege.

Schindhelm has recently separated from PwC Legal, the legal services arm of accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. Schindhelm comprises 38 lawyers, including six partners, and six of PwC’s German offices, based in Bielefeld, Bremen, Dresden, Hannover, Oldenberg and Osnabrück. The firm specialises in corporate commercial and M&A.

Hellwege said of the split: “We found that not having our independence was a problem when trying to service the needs of our small and medium-sized clients.”

There has also been a general decline in accountancy-tied law firms in the wake of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Hellwege emphasises that the split is amicable, with both firms still sharing the same office building.

The split leaves the PwC network with around 30 lawyers in five German offices. They are based in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Essen, Recklinghausen and Siegen. They will continue to operate under the PwC Legal brand.