Same direction, different strategies

The fact that top-flight firms Freshfields, Hengeler Mueller and Linklaters have held their ground at the top of the market for a number of years without becoming similar to each other or even interchangeable is surprising at first. But the firms have different business strategies. Linklaters, for instance, has pursued a path in recent years that is as strategic as it is successful: it increased and deepened its contacts in the boardrooms of German corporates to operate internationally from here. Hengeler Mueller on the other hand, though targeting the same group, focuses on high-end advice in its core discipline of corporate. If the forecasts saying that the German and continental European market will have a growing appeal to foreign investors in the future are correct, both firms will be in an excellent position.

But both firms also lost big hitters to their US competitors Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. This weakens their setups and bolsters those of the US rivals, not only acutely, but in the medium and long term too: the more strongly the US firms perform in Germany, the more attractive they become to laterals. The aura of the impenetrable fortress that surrounded Hengeler Mueller for a long time is lost, and, in terms of profitability, the top trio will be no match for the US competitors in the foreseeable future. The partnerships will have to precisely define the putty that will hold them together going forward, and above all ensure freedom and influence for young, ambitious partners.

At the top of the ranking of JUVE’s Top 50 law firms in Germany, Gleiss Lutz is the picture of stability, but does not give the impression of complacency. US firms knocked on some doors here too. But with its rejuvenated management and some very agile young partners, the firm has (so far at least) shown impressive solidarity and a shared strategic vision.

Find out how German firms are faring on the interational stage

Seiten: 12345

  • Teilen