Firms still need the Euro vision

Loath as one is to shoehorn last June’s referendum vote into everything, the prospect of a hard Brexit is suddenly concentrating the minds of UK law firms.

We’re not going to see the wholesale shift of gravity to Frankfurt and Paris, but getting a balanced European offering that is sufficiently responsive to new trade structures has become a major headache for law firms.

For the moment, they’re still investing. Research for The Lawyer European 100 report – out this week – underlines how much Continental Europe is still a major draw for UK and US firms alike. Goodwin picked up much of KWM Paris; DLA Piper is frolicking in Scandinavia, and Germany top of everyone’s shopping list. Yes, it’s a congested market, but it’s a rich one. No wonder the US firms keep coming; Clydes launched there last year and Ince and Pinsents each opened second offices in 2016.

Many of City heavyweights have reversed out of lower-paying jurisdictions. But there is still room for the odd quirk in coverage. Linklaters is in Lisbon; Clifford Chance is still in Prague; A&O is in Bratislava. (I mourn the days when A&O had an outpost in Albania. Heady times.)

In their last promotions rounds, the largest 10 international firms in Europe collectively made up 125 new partners – an increase from 104 the previous year. But while many firms with a mature presence in key jurisdictions – either through merger or long-ago launches – are growing their talent organically, the lateral market is still febrile. Poaching the right partner is still the preferred way to do business fast.

This week we’re focusing on the key trends on the Continent as part of our European 100 2017 launch. Over this week we’ll be highlighting the firms you need to know about, their talent strategies, and their respective positioning to help you get a sense of activities across different jurisdictions. If you’re in the market for recruitment on the Continent, you’d better read it.



Olswang Munich partners opt against CMS merger

Olswang’s former intellectual (IP) litigation partner Thomas Lynker is among a group of lawyers to break away from the firm following its merger with CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro on 1 May to launch his own boutique in Munich.

The new firm, Taliens, has offices in Munich and Paris and will specialise in IP, tech and media, continuing the legacy of Olswang.

Lynker is joined in Munich by former Olswang counsel Monika Stoehr. Olwang partner Clara Steinitz and Jean-Frederic Gaultier will practice from the Paris office. The new firm will also have a presence in Spain through its association with Madrid-based firm Baylos.

The boutique’s key clients include Chinese conglomerates TCL and ZTE.

Lynker is one of a string of partner exits from the firm ahead of the merger on 1 May. He terminated his contract with Olswang Germany on 28 April, along with Paul Stevens, the former executive partner of CMS. On 30 April, Tobias Reker, Robert John Stephen, Robert Alan Heym and Uli Foerstl terminated their contracts with Olswang, with the latter joining IP law firm D Young & Co in Munich and Heym joining CMS.

It is thought that CMS will retain Reker, two associates and two patent engineers from Olswang’s Munich patent prosecution team. They will join the UK’s LLP instead of CMS Hasche Sigle Germany branch and will remain based in the Munich office until they are relocated to an office in the European Patent Office.

The news of the launch of Taliens ends speculation as to the fate of Olswang’s five-partner strong Munich base. Fieldfisher and Cooley were tipped to take over the Munich office but the talks fell flat.

In March, Dentons hired a five-lawyer patents team from Olswang ahead of the merger. The team is led by partner Justin Hill, whose move was announced at the end of last year. He had co-chaired Olswang’s patent prosecution practice in London.

CMS declined to comment.