EUROPEAN AWARDS: THE WINNERS

Managing partners from some of Continental Europe’s finest firms congregated to hear if they were to receive the plaudits. Focusing on law firms that are based within the countries in Europe, The Lawyer European Awards included a separate prize – Best Overseas Office – that was open to UK and US firms with international footprints. Sir Christopher Meyer, the UK’s former US ambassador, acted as compere at the spirited event, which will go down as one of the largest gatherings of top international lawyers in the world. Congratulations to all the winners.

European Law Firm of the Year

Winner

Garrigues

Shortlisted

A&L Goodbody
CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati 
CMS Hasche Sigle
Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners
Gide Loyrette Nouel
Lawin
NautaDutilh
NCTM
Schellenberg Wittmer
Schoenherr
Wolf Theiss

There is a multitude of reasons why this European giant wins the top award.

Garrigues’ financial success has seen it become the largest law firm in Continental Europe with a revenue surpassing €300m (£268.66m). But away from the financials, it is the firm’s ambition that sees it receive the top prize.

Garrigues has the largest network in Iberia with 28 offices – it has taken the strength of this home practice and exported it to an extensive network across the world.

In 2008-09 the firm launched offices in Bucharest and Tangiers, pushing it further into key Eastern European and emerging African markets.

The firm saw a 14.8 per cent growth in turnover in 2008, showing for yet another year the strength of its reputation and brand both at home and abroad. A 15 per cent growth in profitability evidenced the firm’s shrewd grasp of its finances during a period of expansion.

Garrigues has also published a comprehensive annual corporate social responsibility report and has in place a gender equality plan. With more than 2,000 employees spread across offices in eight countries, such systems play an important part in proving the firm’s willingness to engage its lawyers and support staff in wider issues.

When it comes to clients the firm continually picks up big mandates both at home and abroad and has great reason to be optimistic about the coming year.

An excellent year from a very impressive firm.

Law Firm of the Year: Austria

Winner

CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati

Highly commended

Schoenherr

Shortlisted

Graf & Pitkowitz
Wolf Theiss  

Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati (CHSH) has consistently worked on some of the largest transactions in Austria. The strong capital markets team led seven of the largest Austrian transactions, including Strabag, Telekom Austria, Bank Austria, Zumtobel, Östereichische Post, VA Tech and Austria Tabak.

Key of those was the privatisation of Austrian Airlines and the €15bn (£13.43bn) Austrian bank’s rescue package, both undertaken during the financial crisis through key client ÖIAG, the Austrian Republic’s privatisation authority.

CHSH head of banking and corporate finance Dr Edith Hlawati has had a stellar 12 months, working on many of the core deals that defined the year for the firm.

Law Firm of the Year: Central Europe

Winner

Schoenherr

Shortlisted

Kinstellar
Soltysinski Kawecki & Szlezak
Weinhold Legal
Wolf Theiss

The Central Europe award goes to a firm whose strategy to cement its position in the region has been borne out by winning high-end mandates. Over 2008 and 2009 the firm opened offices in Budapest, Bratislava, Prague and Warsaw and immediately brought in major cross-border deals.

In what will be considered a key period for firms in this region, the intelligent approach to opening new offices and the export of its culture to other countries consolidated Schoenherr’s already impressive reputation as a CEE player.

Another year of double-digit revenue growth backed up the firm’s performance. Both externally with its clients and internally with its expansion plan, a great year for the firm.

Law Firm of the Year: France

Winner

Gide Loyrette Nouel 

Shortlisted

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei
Fidal
Flichy Grangé

A great year showed how Gide Loyrette Nouel has become the largest law firm in France. The 60-lawyer M&A practice acted on the biggest deals of the year, including Group Caisse d’Epargne’s merger with Banque Populaire, Groupama’s takeover of OTP Garancia and a complex $1.1bn (£990m) offer by SNCF for Geodis. The finance practice acted for the French banks in the government’s rescue package, while the project finance side was involved in all the country’s major PPPs. Gide upped the stakes even higher this year, making it a clear winner.

Law Firm of the Year: Eastern Europe & The Balkans

Winner

Wolf Theiss

Highly commended

Kalo & Associates   

Shortlisted

Gide Loyrette Nouel
Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen
Potamitisvekris
Schoenherr

Pursuing a modern and fresh approach to the region, Wolf Theiss has solidified its position over a strong year for the firm.

The past 12 months saw it roll out its signature tax practice from Austria to all of its offices and take the expertise from its strong infrastructure and energy practice in Budapest to other offices in the region.

The firm actively pursued a policy of approaching big-ticket US and UK clients, backing up its one-stop shop strategy with firm commitments from its partnership.

A key year for an innovative law firm that is fast becoming one to watch in Eastern Europe.

European Niche Law Firm of the Year

Winner

LABLAW

Highly commended

Grau & Angulo        

Shortlisted

Alber & Geiger
Ehlers Ehlers & Partner
Patrikios Pavlou & Co
Sérvulo & Associados
Trevisan & Cuonzo

Milanese employment boutique LABLAW was only founded in 2006, but it has made a name for itself by soaking up the enormous wave of employment work that followed the economic crash, assisting clients such as Adecco, Diesel, Fujitsu, Siemens and eBay.

Since opening, the firm has increased revenue from €4m (£3.58m) to a 2008 figure of €5.7m. During the summer LABLAW signed a joint venture to create an HR consultancy aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses in Italy. The firm also announced the opening of a new office in Rome. With a modern approach and a fresh partnership ethos, this is a firm to keep your eye on.

Law Firm of the Year: Iberia

Winner

Garrigues

Highly commended

Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira        

Shortlisted

Gómez-Acebo & Pombo
Lener
Perez-Llorca
Uría Menéndez

In a highly contested category there was, in the end, a clear winner. Garrigues has performed strongly in all areas. In Spain the firm advised on some of the biggest real estate and energy deals of the year, while the firm’s fledgling Portuguese office capped off yet another strong 12 months, with net fees reaching more than €12m (£10.75m) in 2008.

Under a strong partnership ethos led by Miguel Gordillo and José María Alonso the firm has built on its 28 offices across Iberia to record double-digit growth in both revenue and profitability for yet another year.

Best Overseas Office

Winner

Herbert Smith, Moscow

Shortlisted

Garrigues, Warsaw
Mayer Brown, Brussels
Schoenherr, Bucharest
Weil Gotshal & Manges, Budapest
Wolf Theiss, Budapest

Herbert Smith has managed to sustain enormous growth in Moscow despite a difficult year for many international firms. That growth has come across the board to create one of the top full-service UK firms in Moscow.

Revenues have been outstanding and investment in key names in the region means such success is likely to continue. Excellent clients have come on board, including Onexim Group, TNK-BP, Troika Dialog and a major deal that included six banks on the $1.35bn (£820m) Rosneft secured loan facility.

The firm’s tax law and dispute resolution practices stand out in particular, but all in all a clear winner.

Law Firm of the Year:Republic of Ireland

Winner

A&L Goodbody      

Highly commended

Arthur Cox

Shortlisted

Matheson Ormsby Prentice
William Fry

A string of good mandates plus a solid firm strategy sees A&L Goodbody pick up the Republic of Ireland award.

Clients in the technology, energy, healthcare and food and beverage sectors in particular have all benefited from the firm’s advice. Names such as Bupa, Heineken, Telefónica 02 and Apple all feature on the firm’s workbook.

In May 2008 A&L added six new partners, boosted insolvency and litigation, and focused on its impressive training schemes and client tools.

European Managing Partner of the Year

Winner

Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, Arthur Cox

Shortlisted

Dimitri Afanasiev, Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners
Andreas Neocleous, Andreas Neocleous & Co
Jose Antonio Soler, Maniega & Soler

It has been a superb year for Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, both on a personal level and for Arthur Cox. After winning the respect of key figures in the Irish government, Ó Ríordáin has been appointed to various key positions that have helped shape the Irish economy through its recession.

These include being instructed to advise the state on its response to the banking crisis, which saw the creation of the first-ever bank guarantee scheme; the nationalisation and recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank; and the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency.

It is unlikely that any lawyer has influenced a country’s economy during the economic crisis more than Ó Ríordáin. An unbelievable year.

Law Firm of the Year: Switzerland

Winner

Schellenberg Wittmer

Shortlisted

Bär & Karrer
Homburger
Lenz & Staehelin

With Strength across both French- and German-speaking Switzerland, Schellenberg Wittmer has had a strong year. The firm’s thoughtful approach to the organisation of its internal partnership has won it many plaudits.

The new Schellenberg Wittmer Academy, a training programme for associates, is a long-term and ambitious plan that goes to the heart of the firm’s ethos.

Financially strong and with a considered strategy of growth, this firm is a strong performer and good home for any lawyer.

Law Firm of the Year:Russia & The CIS

Winner

Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners

Shortlisted

Alrud
Gide Loyrette Nouel
Magisters
Sayenko Kharenko

With an international approach that has brought in a long list of major clients, Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners has had a record year. In turnover terms the firm doubled its revenue to hit €100m (£89.55m) and increased its headcount by almost 60 lawyers.

Deals such as the $14bn purchase of a 25 per cent stake in Norilsk Nickel by UC Rusal, and debt restructuring work for UC Rusal, Basic Element and Gaz, were impressive, but its litigation practice is where the firm solidified its already strong reputation in the market. Egorov worked on more than 100 litigations over 2008-09, including the TNK-BP dispute, Russia’s lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon and Telenor’s litigation with Alpha Group. Showing the international offices of firms in Moscow how it’s done, and making a name for itself abroad, Egorov is a well-deserved winner.

Law Firm of the Year: Scandinavia & The Baltic States

Winner

Lawin

Shortlisted

Borenius & Kemppinen
Mannheimer Swartling
Plesner

An outstanding 12 months for Baltic firm Lawin, which has built up a strong reputation for itself.

Proving its capability to offer a service both within each country and across the region, the firm has acted on most of the significant transactions in the Baltic region. These include advising Yukos International, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the city of Tallinn on Estonia’s largest PPP project.

The firm has displayed its impressive pro bono work, its involvement in large-scale energy projects and its focus on a clear strategy within a difficult environment.

Law Firm of the Year: Italy

Winner

NCTM          

Shortlisted

LABLAW
Portolano Colella Cavallo
Trevisan & Cuonzo

NCTM’s year will be remembered for the firm’s ambitious growth strategy, which included merging with three strong firms to become one of the largest players in Italy.

By absorbing real estate boutique Delli Santi & Partners, law firm Janni Fauda e Associati and Brussels firm O’Connor and Company, NCTM strengthened key practice areas and plugged gaps to propel it forward, shaping a new NCTM for the future.

Aside from the mergers the firm reported a good year’s performance, posting a 15 per cent increase in revenue compared with the year before. Added to this, the core partnership remains tight and focused on its task to build an even stronger law firm into 2010. While the real test may be what happens next, all at the firm can consider this a standout year.

Law Firm of the Year: Benelux

Winner

NautaDutilh 

Shortlisted

Alber & Geiger
Altius
Houthoff Buruma

With a series of high-profile instructions across the board, the largest firm in the Benelux region NautaDutilh forged ahead with another very strong year, winning instructions from NPM Capital, Nordmilch and Remeha Group on some of the biggest deals of the year.

2009 saw the firm strengthen its litigation group with some key lateral hires. It also expanded its position with major banks such as ING Direct, Deutsche Bank and Dexia and with corporations such as E.ON, DuPont and Vodafone.

Law Firm of the Year: Germany

Winner

CMS Hasche Sigle

Shortlisted

Buse Heberer Fromm
Gleiss Lutz
Hengeler Mueller

An impressive year for a firm that has been raising its standards on all counts. Not only has the corporate practice, one of the largest in ­Germany, maintained its performance with another very good year, but there were some surprising developments that showed a firm in full flight and going places.

The firm’s work with Chinese clients stands out and the appointment of its managing partner Cornelius Brandi to the chair of the CMS alliance shows the value of CMS Hasche Sigle to the wider group.

Independent and robust, this firm can be proud of its work over the past 12 months.