Dechert shuts Frankfurt arm ahead of impending Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong closures

Top 40 US firm closed office in April leaving it with a single German base in Munich
Frankfurt / Germany - 08.09.2015: Tower 185 in the city of Frankfurt, Germany

Tower 185 was home to Dechert's Frankfurt office

Dechert has closed its Frankfurt office, it has emerged, ahead of plans confirmed yesterday to shutter its bases in Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong in the coming months.

The Frankfurt office, which opened for business in 2012 and was based at the prestigious Tower 185, was shuttered in April. Like the firm’s soon-to-be closed branches in Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong it was among the firm’s smallest offices.

It was opened by the firm in 2012 to operate alongside its existing Munich arm but by the time of its closure the handful of lawyers listed under the location on the firm’s website all had bases in other offices. It is understood that it was operating like a serviced office and there were no job losses.

Its closure leaves the top 40 US law firm, which was founded in Philadelphia, with one German base in Munich while the impending closure of its Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong arms will reduce its total network of offices further to 17.

Dechert declined to comment on its Frankfurt office. However, it did release a short statement yesterday (3 July) on its decision regarding the forthcoming closures.

“Following a strategic review of our office locations, we have made the careful decision to close our Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong offices around the end of 2024,” the firm said. 

“We remain committed to representing asset management firms, financial institutions and companies on issues critical to managing their business and capital from high-stakes litigation to complex transactions and regulatory matters. In Asia, we will continue to serve our clients out of our Singapore office, maintaining our award-winning practices and support for the Asia-Pacific region.”

According to its website, Dechert has nine lawyers and patent agents in Chicago, 14 lawyers in Hong Kong and three in Beijing. The Asia closures will leave the firm with a single regional base in Singapore, where it currently lists 14 lawyers of whom six are partners. 

It will become the latest of a growing number of US firms that have either closed offices in China – particularly on the mainland – or scaled back their presence in light both of a sluggish market and increasingly frosty relations between the US and China. 

The firm’s decision to leave Chicago, however, will raise eyebrows, given its status as one of the US’s most important legal centres.

Several leading US firms have moved into the city in recent years, including Cooley, which opened in 2021 with partner raids on Winston & Strawn, Latham & Watkins and DLA Piper, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which recruited former Jenner & Block chairman Craig Martin to establish its presence there in 2020.

Dechert’s Frankfurt office, meanwhile, appears to have lost momentum in 2018 when life sciences partners Rüdiger Herrmann and Jochen Eimer joined McDermott Will & Emery with two other lawyers.

A year later its managing partner, investment funds specialist Achim Pütz, joined German independent Luther.

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