Legal market overview
Two notable consequences of the financial crisis are visible in the Austrian legal market and have informed the flow of work: firstly, the volume of contentious work has increased and is keeping many law firms busy and, secondly, regulations have been tightened in a number of areas and financial supervision has been increased. This has led to a steady flow of mandates, especially on the compliance side and particularly for banking regulatory, tax and employment practices. The economic climate has also created a stage for large restructuring cases such as the Hypo Group Alpe Adria case, which remains a prominent theme of the Austrian market, and M&A transactions as corporates continue to sell non-core assets. Private client practices have been affected by changes to tax legislation with the effect that private foundations have lost their appeal and firms have been shifting their focus towards other forms of asset protection, such as trusts and family holding structures.
The rise in instructions for smaller, more flexible law firms continues to be a trend and has led to the establishment of a number of specialised boutiques. Perhaps the most notable move was in the dispute resolution arena. Wolf Theiss’ former head of arbitration Florian Haugeneder and Bettina Knötzl left the firm together with former counsels Katrin Hanschitz and Axel Thoß in January 2016 to found dispute resolution boutique Knoetzl Haugeneder Netal. Changes in other practice areas are no less noteworthy. Axel Reidlinger, formerly head of competition law at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, founded Reidlinger Schatzmann Rechtsanwälte GmbH together with Gassauer-Fleissner’s co-founder Hanno Schatzmann. Founding partner and media lawyer Christoph Leon left Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH to work independently. Competition lawyer Christian Mayer and energy expert Thomas Starlinger also left Fiebinger Polak Leon & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH in February 2015 to found Starlinger Mayer Rechtsanwälte GmbH. Rudolf Pendl and Gerald Mair established IP boutique Pendl Mair Attorneys at Law after leaving Zeiner & Zeiner. Brauneis Klauser Prändl Rechtsanwälte GmbH rebranded as bkp Rechtsanwälte.
Firms in the spotlight
Lugger | Bankler
Lugger | Bankler is a modern, independent Austrian business law firm. The firm provides clients with personal, individual and efficient legal advice to the highest professional standards. The firm advises national and international commercial entities, as well as public institutions in the areas of business and commercial law. It also advises private clients on commercial issues. The firm’s major practice areas are corporate, M&A, commercial, banking and finance, and dispute resolution. Further it focuses on environmental law and energy law.
Binder Grösswang’s successful strategy is based on outstanding professional expertise combined with a teamwork approach. More than 80 highly specialised professionals work together in teams to give the firm’s clients outstanding support in international and domestic mergers and acquisitions, financing, and capital market transactions, and to preserve their interests in court proceedings and arbitrations. Binder Grösswang’s top priority is to act as a partner to its clients. The firm has gained an excellent reputation for its sophisticated and business-oriented approach and individually tailored solutions.
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