CBH Rechtsanwälte

Comment: 2017 was a year of immense upheaval for CBH. Before now, the firm had mainly operated from its Cologne headquarters, but in the summer opened four new offices: Stuttgart, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In Hamburg and Munich, it brought in almost the entire team from Preu Bohlig. The Hamburg office welcomed Dr. Detlef von Schultz and Sebastian Eble – both specializing in trademark, design and unfair competition law – as well as media lawyer Philipp von Mettenheim; Munich brought in patent lawyers Dr. Stephan Gruber and Hannes Jacobsen. This growth meant a huge boost for the soft IP practice of Prof. Dr. Kurt Bartenbach, which made headlines again in employee invention law on the side of VW. Richard Haug, also previously of Preu Bohlig, was in charge of setting up the Stuttgart office. In Berlin, CBH merged with the firm Merz Jacobsen, which, with its specialty in administrative law and construction advice on infrastructure projects, was a good addition to the advisory portfolio as CBH is increasingly branching out from Rheinland-oriented work in construction. However, progress in terms of acquiring new clients is only occurring at a moderate pace in many practices. In previous years, work was often broadened by advising long-time clients on an all-round basis, incorporating several practices. Bastei Lübbe, which is now advised on transactions as well as corporate and media law, is a prime example.
The public procurement practice, which is traditionally closely intertwined with state aid law and frequently advises public contracting bodies, could also profit from the new Berlin office. Practice head Prof. Dr. Stefan Hertwig moved from Cologne to Berlin to build a bridge to the capital. CBH has enjoyed strong visibility in betting and gaming law for years thanks to litigation for state lottery companies. It will have to compensate for the withdrawal of Dr. Manfred Hecker, who enjoys a good name in this field.
Recommended for: ?Construction, ?corporate, ?employment, ?environmental and planning law, ?M&A, ?patents, ?public procurement, ?trademarks and unfair competition. Constitutional law, media, press law, project development and plant construction, state aid law.
See also: ?Cologne.
Lawyers in Germany: 73
International network: Established cooperation within the Iurope network comprising six midsized firms from other European countries. There is also an established but nonexclusive cooperation with US firm Holland & Knight. Both mainly concern the M&A practice, as well as employment.
Developments: The opening of four offices poses a host of unfamiliar challenges to CBH. The firm, with its solid roots in the Rheinland, has mainly built on activity with the help of regular clients before now. This meant that, although it developed at a steady pace, it was not known for exuberant dynamism. The success of this expansion now will depend on how well interoffice and interdisciplinary cooperation between the Cologne head office and the new offices work. The past has shown, however, that Berlin can be a difficult city in general – even large firms have pulled out again – and the Munich market is dominated by local firms. The fact that the expansion took place with the help of local laterals is thus an advantage. The Mittelstand, CBH’s core clientele, attaches much importance to long-standing relationships as well as a certain geographical proximity to its advisors. Hertwig’s move to the capital is thus consistent and correct. But reinforcements by well-connected laterals – esp. in the public sector – could give work an extra boost.
Despite all this growth, the firm must not lose sight of its own young lawyers. Again it did not appoint any partners from its own ranks, and the mood among associates dropped. CBH runs the risk of losing its young talent to competitors, esp. as its salary structure is now among those in the bottom half of the market.
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