Smaller offices steal a march on larger rivals on fees per fee-earner basis; accountancy-tied firms come top for turnover
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier has once again topped the rankings of the top 100 firms in France, with income of e857,100 (£540,358) per fee earner, according to Décideurs Juridiques & Financiers. Darrois came well ahead of second-place firm and Slaughter and May best friend Bredin Prat, where fees per fee-earner were e673,600 (£424,671). The tables are proof that big is not always beautiful - especially in current market conditions - with the smaller offices easily out-performing their larger rivals in the fees per fee-earner stakes. Of the UK firms, Ashurst Morris Crisp was the best performer, leaping to seventh place from fifteenth last year with fees per fee-earner of e538,600 (£339,560). Slaughter and May also made the top ten, but only just - dropping to tenth place from seventh last year. Managing partner of Ashursts' Paris office Chris-topher Crosthwaite attributed the firm's success to its strength in private equity. "The firms that came out well are the firms doing the high quality work," he added. By and large, however, it was a disappointing year for the UK firms. Watson Farley & Williams, last year's top performing UK firm, dropped from fourth to twelth place. The other magic circle firms also took a dive, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dropping two places to 15, Linklaters dropping six places to 19, Allen & Overy dropping three places to 22 and Clifford Chance down seven places to number 30. "The UK firms in Paris have a strategy that is going to hurt them," said Eric Cafritz, managing partner of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jac-obson's French office, suggesting that the larger size of UK firms' French offices had been detrimental in a less buoyant market. "The biggest lesson in this is that the best firms are very, very small," he added. The US firms, however, certainly made their presence felt, taking five of the top ten spots. It was work for the big US banks which saw Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom take third position with e666,600 (£420,257) fees per fee-earner, just edging out rival Fried Frank on e633,100 (£397,555). In terms of gross turnover, the accountants once again topped the tables. For the second year running Fidal (the KLegal office) came top, this year bringing in total fee income of e221m (£139.3m). Still holding their number two and three spots were Landwell and HSD Ernst & Young. But when it came to fees per fee-earner things were looking grim for the accountants. On the fees per fee-earner table, Fidal was languishing at number 98, with Landwell and HSD Ernst & Young at 85 and 76 respectively. This year's survey is understood to be more comprehensive than last year's, with significantly more firms taking part.