Willkie adds 11-lawyer restructuring team in Germany from Latham

Partners Jörn Kowalewski and Ulrich Klockenbrink join in Frankfurt with team as part of Willkie’s new German strategy

Willkie Farr & Gallagher has added an 11-lawyer bankruptcy and restructuring team from Latham & Watkins, in a major expansion of its German practice. 

Top-flight partners Jörn Kowalewski and Ulrich Klockenbrink have made the move alongside Hendrik Hauke, who has made partner on joining Willkie, counsel Jan-Philipp Praß and seven associates. The team practices in Hamburg and will be based in Willkie’s Frankfurt office.

The team advises creditors, debtors and shareholders on major restructurings, particularly in the automotive, manufacturing, energy, transportation, real estate and travel sectors. 

Willkie said the team’s hire supported its “steady growth” strategy in Germany and Europe over the past four years, during which time the firm has nearly tripled its size in the German market to around 85 lawyers. 

It follows Willkie launching in Munich and recruiting corporate partner Nils Röver in Frankfurt from Latham earlier this year. 

Willkie said the team’s hire also expanded the capabilities of its global business reorganisation and restructuring department, and followed the addition of restructuring partner Simon Baskerville from Latham in London at the end of last year.  

“Jörn, Ulrich, Hendrik and Jan-Philipp are regarded in the market as being among the top practitioners in their field in Germany,” said Rachel Strickland, chair of Willkie’s business reorganisation and restructuring department. “Their skills and experience will be valuable to our clients worldwide, particularly as restructuring and special situations transactions are often cross-border and are increasingly active during all economic cycles.”

Kowalewski has joined after 17 years at Latham and advises on out-of-court restructurings, distressed M&A and debt-to-equity transactions. Earlier he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

Meantime Klockenbrink advises clients on complex restructuring, distressed M&A and enforcement situations, both in-court and out-of-court. During his 14 years at Latham he advised clients including Carlyle, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics and HIG Europe. 

Hauke, who was a counsel at Latham, advises German and international clients in a variety of cross-border distressed situations including complex restructurings and acquisitions of distressed companies, as well as acquisition financing transactions. Last year he co-led a Latham team with Kowalewski that advised Leoni AG, an international Tier 1 automotive supplier, on the restructuring and refinancing of approximately €1.6bn of debt.

Georg Linde and Kamyar Abrar, who were appointed as Willkie’s Germany managing partner and co-managing partner respectively earlier this year, said expanding the firm’s transactional bench in the country was a key area of focus.  

“Jörn, Ulrich, Hendrik and Jan-Philipp are top-notch practitioners who will add significant restructuring experience to our growing team in the region. We are thrilled to welcome them to Willkie,” they said in a joint statement. 

A few weeks ago Latham also lost a pair of partners in Germany to White & Case, with Oliver Seiler, recognised as one of Germany’s top capital market lawyers, moving over in Frankfurt alongside David Rath.  

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