US and UK firms muscle in on French top five highest billers

Ashurst

Morris Crisp, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Willkie Farr & Gallagher have gatecrashed France’s top five most remunerative firms.

Research by French legal magazine Decideurs Juridiques reveals that the three firms are sneaking up on French corporate powerhouses Bredin Prat and Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier when ranked by turnover per lawyer, a barometer of a firm’s quality of work.

Ashursts’ growth has been phenomenal, with turnover for the Paris office rising 50 per cent to e30.3m (£21.3m), driven by the firm’s rampant private equity practice.

Last year, Ashursts advised on the Schneider-Legrand, Télédiffussion de

France and Elis leveraged buyouts and has taken that form in to 2003, advising ING, RBS Mezzanine, Goldman Sachs and Activa Capital on private equity deals this year.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s turnover per lawyer shot up 18.2 per cent to e640,000 (£450,000). The firm’s Paris office has been the driver of its European expansion.

During the past three and a half years, Willkie Farr has opened offices in Milan, Rome and Frankfurt on the back of what has been achieved in Paris.

The Paris office’s turnover of e38.4m (£24.04m) now accounts for around 13 per cent of Willkie Farr’s overall turnover of $320m (£203.6m). Like Ashursts, the success has largely been a result of a strong private equity practice.

French managing partner Daniel Payan told The Lawyer: “We’ve a strong private equity practice and last year was the year of private equity.”

Willkie Farr advised Sodiaal on its e500m (£352m) disposal of Yoplait to a private equity fund. It advised Bain Capital on the acquisition of the base chemical business of Rhodia and worked day and night advising one of the losing consortia bidding for Vivendi Universal’s publishing arm.

Linklaters also benefited from the private equity boom. A solid 15.7 per cent rise in turnover of e66.9m (£47m) was kick-started by its role advising KKR on Schneider-Legrand.

Le Top 20
Rank Firm Turnover per lawyer 2002 €K (£K) Turnover 2002 €m (£m) Number of lawyers 2002 Turnover per lawyer 2001 €K (£K) Turnover 2001 €m (£m)
1 Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier 862 (606) 25.0 (17.6) 29 (14) 857 (602) 21.0 (14.8)
2 Bredin Prat 850 (597) 36.2 (25.4) 45 (23) 674 (474) 28.9 (20.3)
3 Willkie Farr & Gallagher 640 (450) 38.4 (27.0) 63 (11) 541 (380) 35.2 (24.7)
4 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 590 (415) 46.0 (32.3) 84 (19) 531 (373) 35.0 (24.6)
5 Ashurst Morris Crisp 577 (406) 30.3 (21.3) 56 (11) 539 (379) 20.2 (14.2)
6 Hirsch & Associés 521 (366) 14.6 (10.3) 28 (3) 436 (306) 12.2 (8.6)
7 Veil Jourde La Garanderie 520 (365) 19.0 (13.4) 36 (13) 438 (308) 17.5 (12.3)
8 Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom 516 (363) 9.5 (6.7) 18 (3) 667 (469) 14.0 (9.8)
9 Dechert 511 (359) 6.9 (4.8) 14 (3) 413 (290) 6.4 (4.5)
10 Jeantet & Associés 498 (350) 26.4 (18.6) 53 (18) 450 (316) 25.2 (17.7)
11 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 496 (349) 100.0 (70.3) 206 (32) 473 (332) 89.4 (62.8)
12 Gibson Dunn & Crutcher 494 (347) 7.9 (5.6) 16 (4) 497 (349) 7.2 (5.1)
13 Linklaters 487 (342) 66.9 (47.0) 135 (26) 429 (301) 57.8 (40.6)
14 Slaughter and May 486 (341) 18.0 (12.7) 36 (8) 520 (365) 17.9 (12.6)
15 Gravel Otto & Associés 473 (332) 5.0 (3.5) 11 (5) 478 (336) 5.0 (3.5)
16 De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés 462 (325) 6.0 (4.2) 14 (5)
17 Shearman & Sterling 449 (316) 44.0 (30.9) 98 (15) 500 (351) 47.0 (33.0)
18 White & Case 435 (306) 35.9 (25.2) 86 (19) 529 (372) 34.1 (24.0)
19 Poulain & Associés 433 (304) 5.2 (3.7) 12 (6)
20 Sokolow Dunaud Mercadier & Carreras 431 (303) 25.0 (17.6) 58 (18) 426 (299) 18.3 (12.9)
 
Source: Decideurs Juridiques