JUVE Law Firm of the year

Construction

A change in power relationships

Construction is still booming in Germany. In large cities, especially Berlin, the residential building projects never stop – and there is no shortage of planned projects in the rest of the construction sector. However, power relationships in the market have changed: once it was principals who set the conditions, but now they can have a hard time getting several offers for a project. The days are also over when clients could pass most of the risk of a given project onto builders. These changes in the market mean lawyers have to make adjustments and engage more intensively in strategic advice.

Demand for advice is on the upswing due to the new construction contract law, which is poised to come into force in early 2018. There are numerous unanswered questions and legal uncertainties, which means more legal proceedings can be expected. On the other hand, innovative solutions such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), which aim to prevent legal disputes, are slowly becoming part of everyday construction work.

Construction boom increases need for strategic advice

The increasing prevalence of BIM also offers law firms opportunities for further development. This technology-driven model could attract young lawyers to the construction sector, which has a reputation as being outdated, and offer a chance at specialization. Most firms still have a hard time finding suitable young recruits, but they could certainly use them. In contrast to a few years ago, legal advisors are reaping most of their profits in this sector from a more intensive involvement in strategic considerations related to transactions and financing, rather than court cases. Firms that already advise clients on real estate are doing best in that regard. But new firms are also succeeding in making inroads into real estate law.

Lawyers eager to move

The boom and the increasingly comprehensive approach to advice also has consequences for headcount at the traditionally stable construction firms. Luther rounded out its service in Berlin by taking on Prof. Christian Zanner and Daniel Wegener from Wollmann & Partner. Breyer expanded as well: after opening its Frankfurt office in 2014, a well-oiled team joined the firm from Leinemann & Partner, doubling the number of fee earners there, while the Munich office is now being led by a former Kapellmann partner. Up to now the boutique banked more on its own up-and-coming lawyers, but has now altered its strategy in favor of laterals so as to do justice to its growing business.

 

Firms in this chapter provide advice on traditional construction law, incl. contract, architects’ and engineers’ law, fees and liability issues, brokerage, rental and leasing law. Advice for construction projects and representation of the interests of principals and construction companies, both in and out of court, are also found here. Firms that deal with these issues, but where such activities comprise a large proportion of transactions and/or finance, can be found in the chapter on ?real estate.


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