Legal Business Blogs

Herbert Smith Freehills to scale back German operation with Berlin office closure

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) will be closing its Berlin office by the end of the year, reducing the firm’s German footprint to Frankfurt and Düsseldorf.

The 10-lawyer office was first opened in 2013 and is currently led by corporate partners Dirk Hamann and Ralf Thaeter. All associates, trainees and business services staff in Berlin have been given the option to transfer to the firm’s other German offices.

HSF managing partner Nico Abel said in a statement: ‘After careful consideration and consultation, we have decided to close our office in Berlin. So that we are best placed to meet current and future challenges, and make the most of opportunities, we must ensure we have the right capability in the right locations. We want to concentrate our future growth in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, as these are the markets with the greatest opportunities for the firm and our clients.’

Traditionally international firms have focused on Munich and Frankfurt rather than Berlin, with HSF’s Berlin exit suggesting a refocusing along similar lines. Notable exceptions include Dentons and Greenberg Traurig, who both have a meaningful presence in the German capital.

The German retreat also follows a curtailed London promotion round for the Anglo-Australian firm, with four partners being minted in the City. However the global round was an increase on last year, with 22 lawyers being added to the firm’s partnership overall.

‘Germany continues to be a key strategic market for the firm, and we remain strongly committed to growing our leading practice in the region,’ Abel added. ‘We are confident that we can continue to provide the same quality and breadth of service to our clients in Berlin.’