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International law firms are expected to profit significantly from reforms in Germany that allow a law firm to act throughout a case, except in the Supreme Court
Before the reforms, international firms were restricted from acting in the Court of Appeal unless they had offices in close proximity to where the case was taking place. If they did not, then they were restricted to acting only in the District Court - Germany's court of First Instance - and a firm close to the Court of Appeal would take over. Now a lawyer from any part of Germany can act almost anywhere in the country. This throws up the potential for far more work for international firms, as clients will instruct a firm for its quality rather than its proximity to a court. Lawyers are now only restricted from acting in Germany's Supreme Court, equivalent to England's House of Lords, where cases are dealt with only by specialist lawyers. Before the rule change, cases were often hampered because an international firm could handle a case for several years before it was passed on to a smaller firm that had no prior experience of it, had a much smaller administration capacity and often could not answer questions from judges beyond pleadings. International firms predict that the reform will lead to more court work and closer ties with companies. Detlef Hass, head of litigation at Lovells' Munich office, said: "We can sell [the idea] to the client that they can put all their litigation matters in our hands. They can train us to get really familiar with the company's issues and it allows us to build better relations." However, Hass pointed out that international firms will have to "build a database of information on judges", because under the previous system firms close to appeal courts could become very familiar with them.