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Orrick strips down on global stage as two German branches are shut

The apparent international retrenchment of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe continues with the top 40 US law firm announcing this week that it is closing its Frankfurt and Berlin offices.

The San Francisco-bred law firm has decided to cut its German network by half, leaving its offering in Europe’s largest economy with two remaining branches in Düsseldorf and Munich.

Five partners and 13 associates have been affected across both offices. All partners have been offered options to relocate to Berlin and Frankfurt. Transfer decisions for all other affected staff will be made based on client and practice needs, the firm said and all personnel departing from the firm will be given ‘generous packages’ to assist with the transition. Following the closures, the 950-lawyer firm will focus on growing its practices in five areas: cross-border M&A, technology, energy, real estate and disputes.

‘We believe that focusing our German growth and investment on Düsseldorf and Munich, and on our practice strengths, will be of greatest value to our clients globally and will enable us to further integrate our practices in Europe and worldwide,’ said Orrick chairman and chief executive Mitch Zuklie. ‘We have great momentum across Europe, and we are confident that this is the best office platform for us to build upon our distinctive strengths in Germany.’

Orrick expanded into Germany in 2008 after it combined with local firm Hölters & Elsing, which grew the firm’s German network with offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. The firm launched its fourth German office in Munich in 2011 after hiring an eight-lawyer team from technology and media specialist Holme Roberts & Owen.

The move signals more international retrenchment for a practice that in the early 2000s was viewed as one of the most globally ambitious practices bred in the US. Legal Business’ 2015 Global London report on the largest foreign firms in the UK shows that Orrick’s 63-lawyer City arm has contracted by 14% in headcount over the last five years while many peers have aggressively grown.