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Berlin office closure for King & Wood following partner departures and ‘strategic review’

Following signifcant movement within the German arms of major international firms of late, King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin (KWMSJB) has pointed to a strategic review of its German operations for the decision to close its Berlin office, after venture capital duo Frank Vogel and Jan Dirk Heerma resigned with the intention to set up their own boutique.

Till Fock, the head of the newly-merged firm’s financial transaction markets is currently ‘considering his options’, while counsel Tilman de Vries is relocating to the KWMSJB’s Frankfurt office.

The firm will now consolidate its focus on its two remaining German offices: Frankfurt and Munich, which house a total of around 100 fee-earners.

Managing partner Rob Day said: ‘We keep the market under constant review and have, together with the partners in Berlin, come to the mutual decision to close the Berlin office as part of our strategic review of our German operation.

‘We remain fully committed to our venture capital funds practice and our substantial and growing client base in Berlin. Our focus on corporate, international funds, finance competition, tax and litigation plays to our strength and depth in the business centres of Frankfurt and Munich with a number of laterals joining the firm.’

Stefan Krüger and Sonya Pauls were recently appointed as co-managing partners of the German practice, and last month the firm made a significant investment in its Munich office with the hire of Linklaters corporate partner Franz Schaefer.

The news comes after US heavyweight Sidley Austin ordered a review of its Frankfurt office last month following a spate of partner departures, and Shearman & Sterling also hived off two thirds of its German offices last year with the closure of Dusseldorf and Munich, consolidating its efforts on Frankfurt.

‘Whilst we proactively manage our business, office closures are always difficult decisions,’ Day added.

For further analysis of the German legal market see How the dust settles – Germany’s profession is forever changed but singular still