The Legal 500

France

Editorial

Legal market overview

The mood is grey in the City of Light these days despite most law firms reporting a small rise in turnover for 2013. Transactional activity is in steady decline and some believe the French market will never be the same again; it is now accepted that overseas deals – notably the African market – are the new transactional drivers for French law firms.

Anxiety in the market has, however, created a high demand for non-transactional advice. Restructuring and insolvency work have become the bread and butter of a majority of law firms as cases become larger each year. Litigation is also growing as large corporations are ensnared in major proceedings and banks are being called to account before courts, while global investigations are also increasingly common. White-collar crime is another concern across all disciplines and many companies are implementing compliance programmes.

Employment advice is absolutely thriving – one major player in that area reported a 40% increase in 2013 from an already high base – as the country debates the possibility of Sunday and late evening work. Tax law also hit the headlines in 2013 – one famous casualty being former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who lost his government position following revelations of tax evasion. In arbitration, Linklaters LLP and Clifford Chance – two firms that had a relatively low profile in the field in France – considerably boosted their practice with major hires, moves which confirmed the reputation of Paris as a major international arbitration platform.

The continuous transactional decline is a challenge to the business model of many law firms as clients have adapted and increased their resources in-house. Fees and remuneration are major issues as panels and flat fees are becoming the rule. Two senior figures at the Paris Bar commented: the ‘lawyer profession is suffering: we work more to earn less’; the ‘real challenge now is to survive’.

As a result, some law firms are shrinking to specialise and move away from a commoditised market with high levels of competition. Regulatory law is becoming a major trend as regulatory activity has intensified across the EU and globally. Chasing growth in emerging markets such as Africa has become an alternative strategy for some.

Gide, the leading French law firm internationally in terms of lawyer numbers, lost many high-profile figures in 2013 including its top corporate teams – with one group creating its own boutique, BDGS Associés AARPI, and another joining Lacourte Raquin Tatar. Gide responded by hiring a 19-lawyer team from Morgan Lewis LLP.

There were also a number of very significant individual moves such as the high-profile Dominique Bompoint leaving Sullivan & Cromwell LLP to join Cabinet Bompoint and Maurice Lantourne quitting Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP to create Lantourne & Associés.

Linklaters LLP also lost its leading 15-lawyer capital markets team to White & Case LLP, which has emerged as arguably the most dynamic player currently in France – appointing 11 partners over a 12-month period. DLA Piper and King & Spalding LLP are also among the up-and-coming players, with both firms again making major hires in 2013.

A number of international firms also recently opened offices in Paris including Pinsent Masons LLP, Osborne Clarke and Brown Rudnick LLP. Risk specialised and boutique firms are also a major trend, while medium-sized French law firms are increasingly opening offices in the regions and overseas.

Global mergers have also impacted the French market: recent examples include Dentons and King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, which both have offices in France.

The podium of law firms in France is made up of the following: French law firms Bredin Prat, Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, Gide – which remains the largest French law firm internationally with some 600 hundred lawyers worldwide – and De Pardieu Brocas Maffei A.A.R.P.I; UK firms Allen & Overy LLP, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and Linklaters LLP; and US firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP – which is widely regarded as the top US firm in France – along with Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and White & Case LLP.

France also has a large and expanding market of high calibre medium-sized firms and boutiques, which addresses ‘a real need’, according to clients. Among these, the following are particularly noteworthy: Cotty Vivant Marchisio & Lauzeral, Franklin, De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés, Scemla Loizon Veverka & de Fontmichel (SLVF) are very good firms while newly created BDGS Associés AARPI, Cabinet Bompoint and Dethomas Peltier Kopf Juvigny also stand out, giving high-end advice.

Press releases

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Legal Developments in France

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • The new French regulation applying to national insurance contributions for managers and shareholders

    French insurance contributions on executive and shareholder remuneration (pay + dividends) have been substantially increased by the National Insurance Funding for 2013 Act, No. 2012-1404, of 17th December 2012. Until 31st December 2012, all dividends were subject to national insurance contributions on unearned income but henceforth, under Article L136-3 of the National Insurance Code, amended by Act No. 2012-1404, certain dividends   are considered as pay received by executives and shareholders and are therefore subject to the national insurance contributions on pay. The Act also abolished the ceiling on health insurance contributions payable by the self-employed and all this means that businesses must rethink the way that they have been structured until now.
  • CHINA - PERSONAL TAXATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY : CHINESE AND FOREIGN NATIONALS ON AN EQUAL FOOTING

    The People's Republic of China has initiated an overhaul of its social security system, reformed the personal taxation regime and has extended the scope of these laws to foreigners residing in China.
  • MOROCCO TO BECOME THE LEADING FINANCIAL PLACE IN AFRICA

    The Kingdom of Morocco is supporting the ambition of becoming the leading financial place for Africa. In this context, a wave of draft laws is to be passed and implemented within the following months, amongst which, the Law No. 53.08, setting up a new financial authority, and the Law No. 54.08, reforming public offering rules, are of paramount importance to Moroccan and foreign issuers, and financial institutions.
  • ACQUISITIONS IN CHINA : ASSET OR SHARE DEAL?

    The opportunities offered to foreign investors by the Chinese mergers and acquisitions market are increasing every year: in 2010, transactions involving foreign companies came to 60.1 billion euros, an increase of 21.2% compared with 2009. Seen from the West, where markets are declining, all sectors of the Chinese economy seem to be undergoing promising development and the statistics indicate that the Middle Empire will be a lasting springboard for growth.
  • BULGARIA MARKET OVERVIEW

    Types of investors The private equity (PE) funds that are active in Bulgaria are not raised or registered in the country. Some Bulgarian PE funds were raised recently, but there are no statistics as to the sources of their funding, their number, the funds that were accumulated, etc.
  • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING COMMITMENTS

    THE PROCEDURE IS CLARIFIED, BUT MAY COMMITMENTS APPLY WITHOUT LIMIT?
  • Landmark decision by French Competition Authority in conditioned LPG case

    cartel case closed after discovery that leniency application was largely based on forgeries and rejection of collective dominant position objection.
  • Legal Newsletter December 2010: EMPLOYMENT LAW

    (1) No pre-dismissal actions are possible during maternity leave (2) Putting a protected employee back into his previous position after an unsuccessful attempt to a promotion requires the employee’s agreement (3) Means of measuring the electoral base of sector-based trade unions validated by the French Constitutional Council
  • Legal Newsletter December 2010: REAL ESTATE LAW

    (1) The general contractor is not liable vis-à-vis third parties for damages caused by his subcontractor (2) Termination by right of a commercial lease by application of a cancellation clause implies a breach of the express obligations contained in that lease (3) A provision in a lease transferring to the lessee the cost of major repairs and of walls and roofs, must be narrowly interpreted
  • Legal Newsletter December 2010: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY / NEW TECHNOLOGIES

    (1) Patent law: the patentability of computer programs examined by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (2) Trademark law: Israel joins the International Trademark System (3) Trademark law: clarifications to the doctrine of exhaustion of rights

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • VEGAS LEX works on regional airports development strategy

    The VEGAS LEX law firm is working on a strategy to develop international airport hubs based on regional airports in Russia.
  • Commercial Litigation and Arbitration Forum: recognition and enforcement of English court judgments

    Head of VEGAS LEX's Dispute Resolution Practice Kirill Trukhanov spoke at the Legal Week Commercial Litigation and Arbitration Forum in London last week
  • VEGAS LEX drafts local air services financing program

    The VEGAS LEX law firm is working on proposals concerning additional funding sources for regional air service programs in Russia
  • Positive Developments for the Economy of Cyprus

    800x600 It has been around one year and a half since the Eurogroup decisions to recapitalise Bank of Cyprus via a bail-in on 25 th of March 2013. Cyprus has worked hard since then to exit the financial crisis and to maintain its status and reputation as an international financial centre. Within October 2014, several positive developments which took place suggest that Cyprus is on a good path. These positive developments include: Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";} Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";}
  • VDB Loi assists with first Commercial Tax registration by a non-resident

    VDB Loi, a leading legal and tax advisory firm in Myanmar, was this week able to register an unnamed non-resident foreign company without a branch in Myanmar for Commercial Tax (CT) purposes. According to Myanmar’s tax laws, 5% CT is due on, among other things, all services rendered in the country. This includes services that are performed in Myanmar by foreign or non-resident companies such as engineering, installation, drilling or consulting. Until recently, however, there was confusion about the implementation by foreign companies, many of which were under the impression that the CT did not apply to them, unless they formally opened a branch in the country. That confusion has now been lifted as the Internal Revenue Department (IRD) has issued the first CT registration for a foreign service provider who has no presence or branch in Myanmar.
  • Péter Köves elected Vice President of IBA Bar Issues Commission

    Péter Köves has been elected as the Vice President of the Bar Issues Commission of the International Bar Association ("IBA"), the world's largest association for lawyers, law firms and bars.
  • "POPOV & PARTNERS” WITH A NEW ADDRESS

    We are pleased to inform you that, from 28.10.2014 onward, "Popov & Partners" Law office will be working and admitting clients at a new location. Striving to be closer to the clients, the business and the institutions, we have chosen a site situated at the heart of downtown Sofia, which has excellent transport links and is easily accessible from all parts of the city. The address is: Sveta Nedelya Square N 4, floor 4.We are pleased to inform you that, from 28.10.2014 onward, "Popov & Partners" Law office will be working and admitting clients at a new location. Striving to be closer to the clients, the business and the institutions, we have chosen a site situated at the heart of downtown Sofia, which has excellent transport links and is easily accessible from all parts of the city. The address is: Sveta Nedelya Square N 4, floor 4.
  • Moldova: Amendments to the Legislation on Pledges

    On 25 July 2014, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova (Moldova) adopted Act No. 173/2014 on amending and supplementing of certain legal acts (Act No. 173). Act No. 173 will enter into force on 8 November 2014 and will inter alia change the Act No. 449/2001 on pledges (Pledges Act). The effected changes will have a direct impact on both guarantees issued before the entrance into force of the Act No. 173 (which will have to be dealt under the new legal provisions) and on obligations to be secured under the new legal frame. Act No. 173 is also meant to introduce a series of novelties into Moldovan legislation.  read more...
  • Avellum Partners’ Tax Practice Recommended by International Tax Review

    Kyiv, 22 October 2014  - Avellum Partners is proud to announce that our Tax Practice has been highly recognized by International Tax Review (" ITR "), a highly reputable international magazine for tax professionals published by Euromoney Plc. In particular, Avellum Partners was ranked within Tier 3 according to the World Tax and World Transfer Pricing 2015 proving its leading reputation in Ukraine.
  • Boult Wade Tennant grows the Trade Mark and Domain Names team with six new professionals