Frankfurt

Home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges and many major financial institutions, Frankfurt remains the most important center for banking and finance, especially capital markets work. As the hub for banks and banking lawyers, Frankfurt has seen firms extremely busy with advising banks on regulatory issues in connection with Brexit. It is thus generally seen as a market for large firms working in international finance and with little room for small and midsized firms. The traditional Mittelstand law firm is hard to find in Frankfurt nowadays as many of them have been incorporated into nationwide mergers. However, as one of the few regions that admit lawyer-notaries, Frankfurt allows many smaller firms to live off property notarization as well as instructions from the larger firms.

Significant developments:

  • In the wake of Brexit, Japan’s third-largest bank Sumitomo Mitsui has announced it will relocate its European headquarters from London to Frankfurt, while Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered and Citygroup are also looking to the city as an alternative to London.
  • A boom in real estate transactions has led many firms to bolster their teams, including Beiten Burkhardt, Graf von Westphalen and Mayer Brown.
  • The demise of Asian-Pacific giant King & Wood Mallesons in early 2017 meant most of the firm’s partners had to seek a new home, while the remaining six fee earners launched a new corporate boutique under the banner KWM Europe.
  • Frankfurt’s appeal shows no signs of waning: in addition to new office launches, such as that of Wülfing Zeuner Rechel, and firms boosting their Frankfurt teams, e.g. Pusch Wahlig, a number of specialist outfits also emerged in the city, including employment boutique Bluedex, telecommunications firm Neuland and private equity outfit Memminger.
  • The reform of investment tax (due to come into force in 2018), as well as fintech and the dividend stripping (“cum-ex”) investigations are likely to keep Frankfurt firms busy for some time.