Eversheds Sutherland absorbs four-partner KWM team in Frankfurt

Ten lawyers join with business services colleague as part of Eversheds’ and KWM’s cooperation agreement forged last year

Eversheds Sutherland’s international arm has taken on a group of former King & Wood Mallesons (China) partners and staff in Frankfurt as part of the cooperation agreement the two firms announced last summer.  

The group moving to Eversheds’ Frankfurt office includes four partners, six lawyers and a business services colleague; following the departures KWM has five lawyers based in Frankfurt, according to its website. 

The cooperation deal forged last July requires KWM’s Chinese business to refer all outbound UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South America legal work to Eversheds’ international business, with Eversheds sending China-based work to KWM (China). 

The deal also included a commitment by KWM to close its six offices in the UK, Europe and the Middle East by October 2024, with KWM staff being invited to join Eversheds subject to practice needs. 

The four Frankfurt partners moving across will all join Eversheds’ company commercial practice and include Daniel Ehret, Sandra Link, Hui Zhao and Christian Ostermöller.  

Eversheds’ Germany managing partner, Alexander Niethammer, said: “We are pleased to welcome an experienced team from KWM in Frankfurt, the firm’s newest office which we opened in January last year. We are ambitious for further growth in Europe and our new colleagues will add strength to our corporate and employment practices in Germany and help support our exclusive cooperation agreement with KWM (China). 

 “In the 12 months since we opened in Frankfurt, we have grown the team to 43, including eight partners. Our new colleagues will strengthen our full-service offering in Germany and provide additional support for those clients with outbound and inbound interests in relation to China.” 

The Frankfurt team move follows Eversheds absorbing the bulk of KWM’s London office last November, with 15 lawyers and eight business services staff moving over. 

In the same month, Dubai-based KWM arbitration partner Daniel Xu joined Eversheds Sutherland. In September, however, two other United Arab Emirates partners – Dubai managing partner Joanne Strain and Parnika Chaturvedi – signed up with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to set up Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices for the specialist US litigation firm.

KWM had previously been associated in Europe with UK firm SJ Berwin, which collapsed into administration in 2017, leading KWM (China) to set up a European network. 

Eversheds’ Hong Kong office was unaffected by the cooperation agreement, as were its Beijing and Shanghai offices, as they do not offer Chinese legal advice. 

Other international firms have been rethinking their China strategies recently amid the country’s ongoing tensions with the West, tougher economic conditions and increased scrutiny of foreign businesses. Latham & Watkins and Proskauer Rose shuttered their Shanghai and Beijing offices last year, while in September Linklaters said it was cutting headcount in China due to a “prolonged downturn” in the country.  

That came just weeks after Dentons said it was pulling out of mainland China and ending its combination with Dacheng Law Office, citing Chinese cybersecurity and data protection laws. 

Meantime in July, Morgan Lewis & Bockius said it was launching an office in Shenzhen, while in June, HFW said it was opening in South China after becoming the first UK-based international law firm to be given permission to open a representative office in the booming Greater Bay region.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]