OSBORNE CLARKE

Comment: Digitalization is finding its way into everyday company life – and Osborne Clarke is flourishing. The firm is benefiting esp. from the current developments as it has focused on technology-related sectors from day one. This is particularly evident in the TMT practice, which is established when it comes to digitalization matters. In data protection, the firm is profiting from its foresight: it built up this field earlier than most competitors, and has now landed notable companies as clients, even outside of the technology sector. OC is also enjoying more work in media sector transactions: the TMT team was active several times for Pro7Sat.1. But, like competitor Taylor Wessing, which also boasts a pronounced technology focus, OC is struggling to position itself in high-volume deals. For the acquisition of experiential gift brand Jochen Schweizer, Pro7Sat.1 hired Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy for the M&A part. But the firm made great strides in the mid-cap segment. It advised Wirecard on several deals, incl. when it entered the US market, and worked with the TMT practice to advise Funke on taking a stake in Media Partisans.
The VC practice has been a safe bet for years, and once more widened its sphere of action, e.g. for Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and DB Ventures. The practice enjoyed the benefits of working in closer cooperation with Tanja Aschenbeck-Florange’s finance practice, which structured a new high-tech startup fund. The distribution law practice also made an impact, expanding in Munich by bringing in Dr. Thomas Grünvogel. With clients like Schaeffler or PSA Group, he is the perfect addition to the firm’s traditionally strong activity in the auto sector. OC also welcomed Robert Hunter, an expert for international investment and commercial arbitration. The firm thus took a huge step in establishing its dispute resolution practice, which had operated essentially under the radar before then. On the downside, the entire public procurement practice spun off in summer 2017. A team of six around Dr. Oliver Esch and Dr. Karsten Lisch launched as Esch Bahner Lisch, leaving OC with no expertise in this field.
JUVE Law Firm of the Year for: Distribution, trade and logistics, IT.
Recommended for: ?Antitrust, ?corporate, ?distribution and franchising, ?employment, ?energy, ?IT, ?M&A, ?media, ?tax, ?trademarks and unfair competition. Company succession and trusts.
See also: ?Cologne, ?Munich, ?Hamburg.
Lawyers in Germany: 138
International network: Internationally integrated firm with UK, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and now France and Brussels (as Swiss association), with 22 offices in total. US offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and New York. The Cologne and Hamburg offices boast strong contacts in India, Scandinavia and the Asia-Pacific region. In Asia, the firm has an office in Hong Kong and added to its network with a cooperation with Zhang Yu & Partners in Shanghai.
Developments: An entire team leaving the firm was a painful first for OC – all the more so as it is known for its harmonious firm culture. At the same time, the spinoff reveals the low degree of management in the firm. This had meant that the public procurement lawyers were increasingly seen on the side of contracting bodies, although OC is otherwise primarily active for potential bidders. This led to conflicts, which could only be resolved by the departure of the whole practice. To avoid such developments in the future, management will not be able to avoid defining firm strategy more clearly.
A look at the changes in Berlin shows a similar picture: for many years this office was staffed by an associate who may have had a good VC network in the city, but was hardly linked to the other offices at all. Since he left the firm Berlin has not really made headway in VC compared to Cologne and, to some degree, Munich. The employment lawyer who has now moved to the capital will not be able to compensate for these contacts. The firm is looking to build up this office more consistently than in the past, so it is all the more crucial that there is a partner specializing in VC on site in the future who can challenge the Berlin top dogs.
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