Freshfields is the only firm to be rated outside its native jurisdiction in a survey of preferred litigators in 15 European countries.
The firm was rated number two in France after Paris-based Bredin Prat and alongside Jeantet & Associes, Philippe Le Boulanger et Associes and Rambaud Martel.
In the survey, conducted by the journal, International Commercial Litigation, more than 230 clients and contacts in industry and private practice in Europe were asked: "Who would represent you if your life depended on it?" and "Who would be on your shortlist if you were a general counsel?"
In Germany the two leading firms were Bruckhaus Westrick Heller Lober and Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz.
Herbert Smith and Freshfields shared top billing as the best litigators in England and Wales. But the survey suggested that Herbert Smith's pre-eminent reputation may be slipping.
"If Herbert Smith is on the wane, Freshfields is in the ascendant," the survey found.