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A staggering 28 lawyers are snubbing London-based Linklaters to set up the new Berlin office of Washington, D.C.-based firm Hogan & Hartson. It will instantly become a top five firm in the German capital, with more than 15 partners and 20 associates expected to form the new office. At least 11 partners and 17 associates will join from Linklaters & Alliance’s ally, Cologne, Germany-based Oppenhoff & Radler, when the firm is broken up in January 2001. Partners are expected to vote in favor of the resolution to dissolve in mid-September. Media and telecoms specialist Christoph Wagner is one of the partners leaving Oppenhoff. He says partners are uncomfortable with Linklaters’ strategy for Germany. “There is too much emphasis placed on Frankfurt, and investment banks and markets. Our practices are much better suited for Berlin.” Adds Wagner, “Hogan & Hartson is a competent and strong firm, offering full-service advice. Our clients will fit excellently together because we have worked closely in the past. This is not the case with Linklaters, where conflicts exist.” One of Wagner’s major clients is BskyB, the British Sky Broadcasting Group. Wagner acted on behalf of the media company last year, in co-operation with Hogan & Hartson, on its TV alliance with German group Kirch. Bob Glen Ogle, managing partner at Hogan & Hartson, says: “The firm has long represented German clients, as well as multi-national companies engaged in international commercial transactions in Germany.” Says Ogle, “The ability to provide these clients with the experience of such a high caliber group of lawyers resident in Berlin will be of tremendous benefit.” The new office is expected to open in January 2001. An additional five partners from rival Berlin firms are currently considering offers from Hogan, which is also targeting a number of associates. One partner and several associates are also expected to move to Berlin from the firm’s existing Washington office.

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