Olswang has lost its entire Berlin office after all its lawyers quit the firm, leaving its European network in tatters.

RollOnFriday broke the news earlier this week that Olswang's Berlin office, which includes 19 partners (13 equity) and around 62 lawyers overall, have decided to leave the firm en masse. It leaves Olswang with a puny German presence of 18 fee-earners in Munich. Partner Christian Schede downplayed the disaster as "an amicable separation" and said that a "decoupling" would "take place in a carefully controlled manner". Sources report that the Germans were shocked and upset by the ousting last October of former CEO Dave Stewart, who had championed European expansion.

Olswang's German operation was a profit machine, generating strong results in 2013/14 despite a fall in the technology, media and telecoms firm's PEP. It has an excellent reputation in the market, and Freshfields is believed to have had its eye on the team. However RollOnFriday understands that the lawyers have all joined Morrison Foerster. It would be a major coup for MoFo, which has form as it launched its German business in 2013 by poaching Hogan Lovell's Berlin office.

     Olswang reacts

RollOnFriday got wind of the huge defection in March, but did not publish the story after the firm swore blind in writing, again and again, that it was untrue. Hmmm*. When RollOnFriday went back to Olswang yesterday, it rushed out a panicked press release. CEO Paul Stevens said, “we have agreed that our Berlin colleagues will continue to seek to grow their practice under a different brand" ('thats 'agreed' in the same way that someone pushed off a roof agrees to the pavement). Surprisingly, and perhaps optimistically, he said, "while these changes will reduce the firm’s revenues in the short-term, we expect no significant effect on our profitability, nor any disruption to the implementation of our strategic plans and longer term sustained growth".

*Olswang confirmed again yesterday that not one of its German lawyers had handed in their notice in March. If you are a soon-to-be-ex-Olswang lawyer who knows different, bitte sagen Sie RollOnFriday.
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Anonymous 19 June 15 19:21

There was no chance of them joining Freshfields. Post Bruckhaus they are by some way the best firm in Germany.