1. Garrigues, 2. Loyens & Loeff, 3. Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, 4. Fidal, 5. Hengeler Mueller, 6. Noerr, 7. BonelliErede, 8. Uría Menéndez, 9. Rödl & Partner, 10. Gleiss Lutz. For many companies in Europe, the challenges of 2020 appear to be how to maximize productivity, how to accelerate work processes dramatically later in the day, and how to motivate employees through a wave of disruptions and restrictions. There is a slight correlation between the strength of the jurisdiction block and its impact on financial results. From a regional point of view, financial results range from very strong (Portugal, Switzerland and most of Germany), stable (Austria and Nordic countries), stable (Benelux, Italy and Spain) to challenging (France and Ireland). Among the 10 European companies, few provide earnings data, but margin improvement is reported across Europe. The cost savings of moving everything online has been significant, and has impacted revenue.
- Loyens & Loeff
- Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira
- Hengeler Mueller
- Uría Menéndez
- Rödl & Partner
- Gleiss Lutz
The “Iberian giant” Garrigues dates back to 1941, when two small law firms run by brothers Joaquin and Antonio Garrigues Diaz-Canyabate merged. The company grew in size over the next 50 years, opening an office in New York in 1973 and Brussels in the next decade.
Garrigues may actually have been the first Spanish law firm to begin expanding internationally. In the 1980s, he created a global network known as the Club de Avogados (the Lawyers’ Club), providing access to like-minded companies in other countries. A major turning point for Garrigues came in 1997 when he merged with the Spanish tax and legal division of the audit firm Arthur Andersen. The merger was successful. In just five years, the number of employees has doubled and turnover has increased by 130%.
In 2011, the company acquired 152 new shareholders as part of its transition to a more egalitarian structure. Finally, nearly 95% of the partnerships were shareholders in a modified state.
Antonio Garrigues Walker, son of Antonio Garrigues Diaz-Canyabate, joined the company in 1954. He became Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1962 when his father was appointed Spanish Ambassador to the United States, and he held that position for an astonishing 52 years, retiring in 2014 at the age of 80. The company’s partners appointed him honorary chairman after his retirement.
Current Chairman Fernando Vives was the Company’s Corporate and Commercial Management Officer from 2001 to 2009, when he was appointed Co-Management Partner with tax partner Ricardo Gomez Barreda.
Vives and Gomez Barreda replace Jose Maria Alonso and Miguel Gordillo, who headed the company from 2000 to 2009.
In 2011 Garrigues reorganized his leadership. Vives became the sole managing partner and Gomez Barreda was appointed as the senior partner. When Antonio Garrigues retired, Vives added “Executive President” to his position and Gomez Barreda was re-elected as Senior Partner.
Vives were re-elected for another five years in January 2017.
The Lawyer research data
- European 100 rank: 1
- Revenue: €386.9
- No. of Partners: 326
Loyens & Loeff
Loyens & Loeff is the second of the top three European law firms with a wide range of tax practices. Founded in 2000 by the merger of tax consultant Loyens & Volkmaars and law firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke, it still employs numerous non-legal tax consultants today. In total, about a quarter of our employees specialize in tax law or consulting.
The company traces its history from the moment it was founded to separate departments in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. While Legacy Loyens & Volkmaars has grown internationally but former Loeff Claeys has not, the combined company now has offices in eight jurisdictions outside the Benelux region, where it is headquartered.
The Zurich office was last released in 2015 and the office is growing rapidly.
Loyens & Loeff’s revenue and number of employees have fluctuated in recent years, peaking in 2014, then increasing in 2015, declining slightly in 2016, and then recovering again in 2017 and 2018. Nevertheless, it remains one of the largest independent European countries. A company both in terms of number of employees and revenue.
Taxation is Loyens & Loeff’s biggest area of practice, but corporate governance follows immediately. However, the company offers full services and small finance, litigation and real estate teams. Loyens & Loeff has seven offices outside the Benelux region, in addition to three Dutch bases in Brussels and Luxembourg. He is not a member of any network.
Loyens & Loeff currently chairs the Board of Directors, consisting of Managing Partner Bram Linnarz and Board Members Marieke Bakker and Thierry Charon. The trio were elected in 2018 for a two-year term. Linnartz is the first term as Managing Partner on behalf of Willem Jarigsm, who has served two terms. Jarigsma is currently based in Loyens’ London office. Loyens & Loeff’s 4,444 directors are members of its legal and tax advisory team. In addition, the non-executive director sits next to the managing director as a single-story eight-member model.
- European 100 rank: 2
- Revenue: €344m
- No. of Partners: 123
Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira
The third of three Iberian law firms in the European top 10, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has – much like its peers – jumped out of a family run firm into a major international player with offices around the world.
The firm was founded in 1917 by Emilio Cuatrecasas Buquet and was led by a Cuatrecasas for the best part of a century. Cuatrecasas Buquet`s son Pere Cuatrecasas Sabata succeeded his father and was in turn succeeded by his son, also Emilio.
After the Portuguese market opened up to foreign firms in 2001, Cuatrecasas became the first Spanish law firm to find a Portuguese merger partner. Like the larger city of Garrigues, Cuatrecasas-Gonçalves-Pereira extended beyond Iberia. It has 11 offices outside Iberia with a focus on Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Revenue has been steadily but slowly growing in the past few years, and Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira employs around 1,400 people worldwide, including nearly 900 lawyers.
Tax and corporate are the firm’s major practice areas, with corporate contributing more than a third of total revenue in 2016 and tax just under a third.
In 2012 Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira split the responsibilities formerly held solely by Emilio Cuatrecasas, creating a new role of chief executive. Managing director Rafael Fontana became CEO and assumed Cuatrecasas` executive powers.
When Cuatrecasas stepped down as firm president, Fontana took it on and continues in this role, leading the firm’s board with support from other partners. Litigator Jorge Badia was named managing partner in March 2015 and is responsible for running of the practice, although Fontana remains the figurehead.
The duo were reelected in April 2019 and Badia was handed more power in the process. Emilio Cuatrecasas is still involved with the firm and leads a three strong partnership board.
- European 100 rank: 3
- Revenue: €315.3m
- No. of Partners: 224
French law firm Fidal shares similarities with Garrigues and Loyens & Loeff because of their strong tax background, but remains an exception among the big European corporations.
The company was originally founded in Grenoble in 1923 as a tax office known as “Trustee of France” and moved to Paris in 1924. The rapid expansion allowed Fidal to have 24 offices by 1928, adding law to the proposal in 1933.
Fidal began its initial international expansion with offices in French-speaking North Africa and moved to Pete Marwick’s French international tax practice in 1986, a year before the merger of Pete Marwick and accounting firm KMG to form KPMG. Fidal will have a close relationship with KPMG for many years to come.
With a change in the law in 1991, the professions “avocat” and “consil juridique” similar to English lawyers and lawyers were consolidated, and Fidal was immediately established as “the first law firm in France”.
Fidal was a key member of the KPMG legal network KLegal and was disbanded due to the Enron scandal. They maintained a close working relationship until July 2018, when KPMG announced that it would soon hire 145 Pidal lawyers in Paris after terminating the partnership.
Over the past few years Fidal has attempted to strengthen ties internationally through a series of office openings, joint ventures and network announcements, most recently with Mills & Reeve in the UK. He is also working to broaden his profile in the field of corporate law. Despite these efforts, they still enjoy a low status outside the jurisdiction.
Fidal does not normally provide a list of key customers, but has more than 90 offices and thousands of customers across France. Taxes continue to make up the majority of law firm income.
Affiliates are at a modified higher pay level. About half of Fidal’s attorneys are partners, but less than half of the partnerships have stakes. Based on employees, Fidal is Europe’s largest law firm with over 2,300 employees.
Fidal’s leadership consists of an executive committee chaired since 2012 by CEO Regis Lassabe and tax partner President Yves de Seven. Both have been members of the executive branch since 2008 and were elected to their current positions in 2018 for a two-year term.
- European 100 rank: 4
- Revenue: €286m
- No. of Partners: 515
Hengeler Mueller is one of the historical law firms among the top 10 European law firms, and in its current form was formed when Düsseldorf law firm Hengeler Kurth Wirtz and Frankfurt law firm Mueller Weitzel Weisner combined.
Hengeler Mueller remains a conservative firm aimed at top-end work. It rarely hires and loses partners, although several groups of younger lawyers have in the past quit to set up boutiques.
The firm is Slaughter and May’s German best partner and has been closely connected to the ‘best friends’ group for years. It does have some foreign offices, most recently launching in Shanghai in 2013 to add to representative establishes in Brussels and London.
Hengeler Mueller is fundamentally a corporate law firm, although it also has smaller, but strong, finance, private equity and capital markets teams.
Like several German law firms, Hengeler Mueller has two managing partners who play the role of firm management with fee-earning. The current duo, Georg Frowein and Rainer Krause, were elected in 2018.
They changed finance partner Dirk Bliesener and corporate partner Georg Seyfarth, who served a four-year term between 2014 and 2018.
- European 100 rank: 5
- Revenue: €286m
- No. of Partners: 86
Over the past few years, Noerr has gone through one of the most significant transformations of one of Europe’s leading independent law firms, from solid mid-sized companies to engaging in large cross-border deals.
But even before this strategic shift, Noerr was presumably one of the most dynamic German law firms. In the 1990s it expanded into Eastern Europe, followed by an IP address base in New York in 2005, London in 2010, Alicante in 2011 and offices in Brussels in 2014.
During the same period since 1989, Noerr has opened in Berlin, Dresden and Düsseldorf, with more recently established offices in Frankfurt and Munich. The company consolidated some of these offices, for example, in 2013 when it spun off its Kiev base into an independent division.
The company grew steadily in the first decade of the millennium, but growth has slowed somewhat in recent years. Noerr is targeting a presence in Eastern Europe, but the network revenue is less than 10%. The
company continues to focus on modernization and, more recently, working to establish itself as a key digital business consultant. The trophy customer is the German internet company Rocket, which started as a small startup and is now valued at around 3.5 billion euros.
Noerr leaves the Eastern Europe office and is a German member of the Lex Mundi network, working regularly with many UK and US companies outside their jurisdiction. Noerr currently employs approximately 1000 people and attorneys. The company’s managing partners are known as “Speakers” and current leaders Tobias Burgers and Alexander Ritvey were elected in 2013. For Burgers, it was re-election and Ritvey replaced Dieter Schenk. The two work closely together to share responsibilities.
Schenk retired after 15 years of conducting. Until 2005, the managing partner was Ronald Frohne, who opened this office and moved to New York, where it was replaced by Bürgers. In April 2018, Noerr announced that Burgers would retire at the end of the year. He will be replaced by Compliance Officer Torsten Fett, who will work with Ritvey.
- European 100 rank: 6
- Revenue: €271.6m
- No. of Partners: 199
As a result of the three-party merger in 1999, the law firm now known as BonelliErede and more formerly known as Bonelli Erede Pappalardo than two years ago was formed. Three smaller heritage practices have merged to become Italy’s largest: Bonelli e Associati from Genoa, Erede e Associati from Milan and Pappalardo e Associati from Brussels.
Although some of its competitors are similar in headcount, BonelliErede’s work is so state-of-the-art that, according to the Lawyer European 100, the company’s turnover ranks among the top 10 law firms in Europe. Although the founders of the company, Franco Bonelli, Sergio Erede and Aurelio Pappalardo, are still in the company, Bonelli Erede has been actively institutionalizing the company over the past few years. The process began in 2011 as the company shortened schedules and abolished junior and paid partner positions, making all partners full capital.
Several years later, managing partner Alberto Saravalle resigned after two years of a three-year tenure and replaced as managing partners Stefano Simontachki, Head of Tax and Transfer Pricing, and Marcello Giustiniani, Head of Human Resources. The corporate governance restructuring was accompanied by another reward change that increased the focus on commitment and efforts to make Bonelli’s career path more transparent.
This company is part of Slotter and May’s Best Friends group and works closely with other companies in cross-border transactions. Although its international presence outside Italy has historically been limited, it opened in Ethiopia, Egypt and Dubai in 2016 and 2017.
Corporate operations drive the largest share (about 44%) of BonelliErede’s revenue. The two managing partners of a law firm have different responsibilities. Simontachki is responsible for strategy development and Giustiniani is responsible for internal affairs.
International and Business Development Committee reports to Simontacci and IT, Employee Compensation, Partner Compensation and Partnership Committee reports to Giustiniani. Each committee may not contain more than one board member.
- European 100 rank: 7
- Revenue: €270m
- No. of Partners: 83
In common with the other big Spanish law firms, Uría Menéndez’ family connections remain strong with the last surviving founding partner Aurelio Menéndez passing away in early 2018. That said, it has been some time since Uría Menéndez had a founder’s family member in an active management position.
The firm was founded in 1946 by Rodrigo Uría González. Menéndez, and Uría González’s son Rodrigo Uría Meruéndano, joined some 30 years later and the firm was renamed Uría Menéndez at that time.
Much of the Uría Menéndez’s revenue – around half – is generated by its large corporate team, and roles on the biggest M&A deals is Uría’s bread and butter. However, it does also advise on litigation, tax and employment.
Similar to most of its European best friends, Uría Menéndez operates a pure lockstep structure. The firm employs around 950 staff and just over 600 lawyers.
In 2005, Uría Menéndez granted José María Segovia and Luis de Carlos its joint managing partners. In 2011 the law firm moved to a more Anglo-Saxon model, with Segovia evolving senior partner and de Carlos sole managing partner.
Segovia and de Carlos replaced Uría Meruéndano in the management role, and the latter remained president of the firm until his sudden death in 2007 from a heart attack, aged only 66.
In June 2019 Uría released a change in management, effective 1 January 2019. De Carlos took over from Segovia as senior partner, while corporate partner Salvador Sánchez-Terán was named managing partner.
- European 100 rank: 8
- Revenue: €249m
- No. of Partners: 130
Rödl & Partner
Rödl & Partner does not fit the same profile as most of the other large European law firms. It is a sizeable multidisciplinary operation worldwide, with a focus on Europe in particular, headquartered in Germany.
The firm’s legal arm gains just over half the global turnover of the combined legal, tax and audit operations despite having less than half of Rödl`s total workforce. Just under 900 staff work in the legal division, out of 4,500 globally, although naturally the Rödl & Partner benefits from the economies of scale derived from being part of such a large operation.
However, Rödl & Partner was founded as a legal practice, by Bernd Rödl in Nuremberg in 1977. It was the first West German enterprise to open in East Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and shortly thereafter began to expand eastward. First they expand to Russia, then to Asia.
Like Fidal, Rödl & Partner carries out a wide range of tax practices and is still a major source of income from the legal side of the business. Corporate and real estate laws are also very important to companies.
Rödl & Partner currently has 108 offices worldwide, including 24 in Germany, but legal services are not available in all these regions. However, multidisciplinary offerings are critical to the company’s strategy and core business. It is not part of the law firm network.
Rödl & Partner has six managing partners and is currently chaired by Bernd Rödl’s son Christian. The other five board members are tax advisors and lawyers, all based in Germany, despite the company’s global presence.
- European 100 rank: 9
- Revenue: €238.5m
- No. of Partners: 258
Gleiss Lutz, togther with Hengeler Mueller, sits comfortably in the top tier of the German independent law firms and has done since its foundation in 1949.
The firm was set up to focus on competition law, a focus which few specialized in at that time. That led to Gleiss Lutz being the first German law firm to open in Brussels, in 1962. However, during the 1970s it gradually became a full service player and in the 1980s started internationalizing, creating an informal network of partner law firms overseas and launching in cities such as Prague and Shanghai.
This process took a more significant turn in the early 2000s, when Gleiss Lutz collaborated with legacy Herbert Smith and Benelux firm Stibbe to form a tightknit best friends network. Over the next decade, companies will converge to implement elements involving third-party documentation and joint offices. Gleiss Lutz closed its Shanghai office, and rumors of merger negotiations between the trio have been circulating for years.
However, in 2011, Glace Lutz and Stibbe voted against the merger with Herbert Smith and the union was dissolved. Years later, Glace Lutz formed a new alliance, this time with Gide Laurette Nouel, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira and Chiomenti Studio Legal. Although labeled “non-exclusive”, the alliance nevertheless implies a significant amount of collaboration, division of offices, and initiatives between the quartets.
Gleiss Lutz is now one of the largest law firms in Germany, with offices in six cities. Although it currently has no physical presence outside of Brussels, the alliance has country offices aimed at providing access to key European markets and conducting business in other jurisdictions such as China.
The company is relatively conservative. It has an impeccable partnership and, like its competitor Hengeller, has gone through a clean 12-step process. Corporate is currently the largest team, but Gleiss Lutz has maintained an excellent, competitive division nearly 70 years after its founding.
Gleiss Lutz moved in 2000 to a new organizational structure that introduced the roles of a managing partner and a board of seven members. Employment Partner Martin Diller was elected Gleiss Lutz’s first managing partner in 2000, a position he held until January 2008 when Rainer Loges, company partner and former head of Prague, came to power. Loges led and ended the alliance between Herbert Smith and Glace Lutz and played an important role in the formation of the new European Union.
In 2016, Loges retired and was replaced by two managing partners. Corporate partner Alexander Schwartz and corporate and litigation partner Michael Arnold both preferred common tickets because they both wanted to keep getting paid.
At the same time as Schwartz and Arnold were elected, Wolfgang Bosch was appointed as the new president of Glace Lutz.
- European 100 rank: 10
- Revenue: €227.5m
- No. of Partners: 80