RESEARCH CRITERIA

What is JUVE German Commercial Law Firms?

JUVE German Commercial Law Firms, or GCLF, is the English language version of the JUVE Handbuch Wirtschaftskanzleien. Currently in its 16th edition, it is the only book of its kind produced by German publishers for the German market. It is independently researched and written by an editorial team, which also writes reports and analyses of the legal market in our monthly magazine JUVE Rechtsmarkt.

In German Commercial Law Firms you can find comprehensive and accurate information on the services of over 600 commercial law firms, accompanied by an evaluation (in the text itself and in the form of a ranking).

This reference work is updated and extended annually and although it is primarily intended for clients, it is also of great advantage to lawyers. Its aim is to aid commercial businesses by increasing transparency within the ever more diverse and confusing legal market.

 

Structure of JUVE German Commercial Law Firms

The publication is divided into four sections:

1. National Review: analysis of the market for national and international law firms.

2. Regions: the firms’ headquarters or most important offices. This section covers those law firms that advise the leading companies in their region on all significant issues.

The presentation of large firms is less extensive here as the organizational structures are mostly based on practice groups rather than regional offices. Accordingly, more detailed information on large firms can be found in the chapters on individual practice areas and an overall evaluation can be found in the chapter ‘National Review’.

3. Practice Areas: this section is ordered alphabetically and discusses law firms and lawyers which enjoy a strong reputation and standing in a particular field.

4. Firm of the Year: each year, the editors at JUVE award a prize to those law firms which they deem to have stood out in a particular practice area or region during their research. The winners are then described in the JUVE Handbook.

 

How the JUVE team conducts its research

While researching the current edition of JUVE German Commercial Law Firms, the editorial team interviewed many lawyers over the past year, including lawyers from the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), clients, legal academics and judgesin order to ascertain their perception and assessment of the market and of certain law firms. The emphasis of the research lies clearly on interviews either in person or via telephone, as the JUVE team believes that these personal interviews yield more reliable results than a standardized questionnaire. However, in order to broaden their research the JUVE editors also sent out such questionnaires and the results have also been incorporated into the text and ranking tables. The research carried out by JUVE between July 2016 and July 2017 can be broken down as follows:

•            10,269 interviews with lawyers in over 1,173 German and international firms in Germany.

 •            3,625 questionnaires completed by 816 German and international firms in Germany.

•             751 people in 684 companies provided us with recommendations for 2,076 lawyers and 714 law firms.

Statements from clients are of particular importance for the evaluation of firms. The quotations by clients (and competitors) concerning individual law firms were carefully selected from numerous statements.

The editors at JUVE have taken the utmost care in reporting the information provided but can nevertheless accept no responsibility for the quality of the recommendation or for the absence of a reference. The portrayal of the selected law firms is not an advertisement and cannot be bought in any way.

The introduction to each chapter analyzes the market trends within that region or practice area. The firms which, based on our research, enjoy a particular reputation are ranked accordingly. However, JUVE does not imply in any way that this list is exhaustive. Clicking on the name of a law firm will reveal further details and analysis of the activities of that law firm in the respective region or practice area.

 

Law Firm Rankings/Tables

There is no such thing as ‘the best German commercial law firm’. The claim that there exists such a thing as completely objective criteria for the comparison and evaluation of law firms would be entirely mistaken. Unlike consumer goods, law firms do not provide tangible objects on which their quality can be independently judged; they are service providers, whose activity can only be judged subjectively by clients and colleagues.

The JUVE rankings have therefore one aim only: they attempt to reflect how clients and lawyers view the market. They describe certain law firms as ‘leading’ and rate some ‘above’ others. Such statements represent subjective opinions. Therefore the JUVE rankings are simply a way of expressing with graphics the subjective evaluations from numerous clients, lawyers and academics in Germany and abroad.

The editors at JUVE aim to depict the cumulative impression in the legal market concerning the reputation of a law firm as accurately as possible and the most important resource for this is the great depth and breadth of our research. However, translating such a huge number of evaluations into a table is also a subjective process. The reader should therefore also take into account the corresponding texts for each law firm.

The chapters ‘National Review’ and ‘Regions’ aim to summarize our market research on the individual practice areas and to show how law firms are perceived as a whole by clients and lawyers. The criteria which play a role in such subjective assessments depend on what the client requires from the advisor and as these requirements change, so do the criteria. In over ten years since the first edition of JUVE German Commercial Law Firms was published, the following have become increasingly important for both Mittelstand firms and corporates:

Up-to-date financial and transactions know-how: the ability to provide high quality advice on cross-border issues. Firm management and structure focused on a high degree of specialization, as well as strong coordination of the individual specializations among lawyers.

The corporate practice: this field is particularly prestigious and contributes to a firm’s reputation as a whole. Firms which specialize predominantly in other (individual) practice areas are therefore listed exclusively in the respective chapter for that field in JUVE German Commercial Law Firms.

Development: the way a firm has developed and the quality of its client base, i.e. which companies (sector, size, and significance) are advised by a firm on complex legal issues and to what extent.

All-round advice: although corporate plays a prominent role, the breadth of the advisory spectrum is also important. Therefore firms that have built up their capacity in core fields such as capital markets, private equity, tax and employment are usually rated more highly than those firms which have only an outstanding corporate practice.

Stable and successful international contacts: it is significant how a law firm has reacted to increasing globalization, whether the lawyers regularly develop and nurture client relations to foreign companies, financial investors and partner firms.

Team work: firms which form synergies to the benefit of their clients are usually more highly regarded than firms whose practice fields have no connection to one another.

Consistent quality: some firms give the impression that they have a consistently high standard of quality in all areas of activity and consequently enjoy a good reputation among clients and colleagues.

The number of practitioners considered to be outstanding in a given practice field.

Quality of service: there are noticeable differences in the speed, friendliness, reliability and organization with which transactions are handled in the market.

Strategic forward planning: to what extent a firm instigates and influences trends in the legal market with regard to its future plans.

Firm culture: this relates to the (also external) stance, through which the lawyers of a firm are united and convey the firm’s philosophy and concept as a whole. This includes a balanced age structure as well as a promotion system and opportunities for lawyers to establish themselves with clients. This is the only way a firm can acquire and retain the best lawyers.

For each firm in the ranking table, one or two offices are listed which focus on that particular practice area. However, that does not mean to imply that the practice field is not covered at other offices.

 

Each law firm evaluation consists of the following sections:

•             The comment discusses the reputation of a firm and its practice. Typical features of the practices and sometimes also current developments are also described here.

•             The strengths in a practice area/regional office are highlighted.

•             The development potential section discusses the potential of a particular field, for example, or points out gaps or challenges in the practice.

•             The recommended section lists those lawyers that come highly recommended in a particular field or region by clients, competitors and other market participants

•             The description of the practice relates to the activities of a firm during the previous year and its ongoing work in a particular field/regional office. The lawyer statistics state how many lawyers are at least 50% active in a given field (see the chapters on individual practice areas). Unfortunately we have not managed to obtain statistics for every firm.

•             Each evaluation also contains a section on clients. The JUVE editors asked the firm to provide concrete references (with the clients’ permission) either by name or description. Where no references have been provided it states “no client details given”. In most cases the information does not come from the law firms themselves but is public knowledge (e.g. through daily newspapers, public court cases, the Internet or was disclosed by the client).

In addition to the law firm rankings, some chapters contain a table which lists recommended firms and lawyers. These may be recommended for a particular specialization or region or simply because they are promising and these are often described with a short paragraph.

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