A former Linklaters partner has been sentenced to three years in prison for sexually assaulting a student after the firm's Oktoberfest party in 2014.
Tax partner 'Thomas E' trapped the woman, who was interning at the firm, in a secluded corner of a restaurant's veranda following the office's annual 'After Wiesen' party. After verbally harassing her, he sexually assaulted the student, before another partner, litigation lawyer Laurenz Schmitt, intervened by punching Thomas E in the face.
The next day Schmitt reported Thomas E to the firm, stating that he had "punched that bastard in", triggering an internal investigation. Germany's then-Senior Partner Carl-Peter Feick conducted interviews in Munich before then-London Managing Partner Robert Elliot ordered Thomas E to the UK for extensive grilling by litigation partner Christa Band. When her investigation concluded, both partners left the firm with immediate effect.
The firm said it chose not to report Schmitt or Thomas E to the German authorities because the victim wanted no part in criminal proceedings. However, the partners subsequently reported each other to the police. In 2016 Schmitt was sentenced to seven months suspended for assaulting Thomas E. He argued that he punched the tax partner repeatedly in the face as an "emergency response".
Thomas E was found guilty of sexual assault after standing trial in 2017. Over 40 witnesses were called including Feick, Elliot and several other Linklaters lawyers. Sentencing the former partner to three years and three months in prison, the judge said his victim had been "greatly harmed" by the assault, which led to the interruption of her studies and compelled her to enter therapy, and that she had "lost her happiness and trust in people".
A spokesman for Linklaters said, “We have always been mindful that there is a young student at the centre of this case. That concern has guided our behaviour and priorities throughout”.
Never shy to cover up a crime, German officials extended an injunction preventing publication of Thomas E's full name. His lawyer told RollOnFriday that he intended to appeal his conviction. It follows news of a partner's sexual assault of a junior lawyer at Baker McKenzie, and the dismissal of a Dentons partner for "inappropriate behaviour".