Freshfields Germany challenges London

Frankfurt and Düsseldorf jubilant as year-end figures outshine UK colleagues

The power balance between Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer‘s London and German operations is set to shift as it emerges that the German end has matched London’s performance in the year-end figures – the first time that this has happened since the merger.
The Lawyer can reveal that, uniquely among Anglo-German firms, profitability and turnover in corporate was virtually identical in London and Germany in 2002-03.
While London struggled to maintain its figures, the Bruckhaus Deringer side had a bumper year in corporate. London is understood to have turned over around £330m, with just under 33 per cent being billed in corporate; German figures and profit margins were comparable.
The Germans’ performance has been shored up by the strong euro, which has had a dramatic effect on many firms’ European networks. The turnaround has had a significant psychological effect on the German partners, who have been chafing at London’s political dominance.
The news comes as German partners begin selecting candidates for the politically sensitive senior partner elections in October.
The front-runners were thought to be Frankfurt partner Konstantin Mettenheimer and co-head of corporate Axel Epe, a Düsseldorf partner. But it emerged last week that current senior partner Christian Wilde may yet run. He would do so on a ticket with UK senior partner Anthony Salz, leaving the firm’s top management unchanged.
The senior partner elections are preceded by practice co-head appointments. Nominations will be put to a vote next week. The German front-
runners are Andreas Fabritius from Frankfurt and Jürgen Sieger from Cologne.
The situation is complicated by the fact that German partners do not want too much power concentrated in a single office within Germany. There is no prohibition on lawyers from a single office holding both the senior partner and corporate posts, but this is likely to be a consideration in both elections.