Jérôme Le Breton
Turnover: €8m (£5.43m)
Total number of lawyers: 41
Total number of partners: Seven
Main practice areas: Commercial real estate, property finance, construction, planning
Key clients: Allianz Immobilien, French government agencies, Marriott International, British Land, Arlington Securities, Kenmore Property Group
Le Breton & Associés sees itself as an innovative and forward-thinking firm. However, it has been part of the French legal market for a very long time. It was founded in 1527 as a firm of notaries, and historical clients include such cultural luminaries as writers Victor Hugo and Jean de La Fontaine, as well as philosopher Michel Foucault.
These days Le Breton & Associés is a very different animal. It retains its notarial capacity, but is also a thriving firm of lawyers. It has benefited from the input of former Linklaters senior associate Jérôme Le Breton, who joined the firm a decade ago.
“We decided to create a specialist real estate boutique using the skills and all the abilities that the firm had,” explains Le Breton.
All of the firm’s seven partners are dual-qualified as notaries and French lawyers, but spend most of their time on legal issues. The notarial work comes at the end of a deal and is more focused on documentation.
Le Breton’s team of 41 lawyers now acts on deals worth hundreds of millions of euros each month for major real estate clients, such as German company Allianz Immobilien, British Land, Arlington Securities and Marriott International. The days of helping authors buy houses are long over.
“Sometimes we can be the French office of a firm of lawyers from another country where there’s no office in France,” says Le Breton. Although he points out that, in the increasingly global market in which the firm functions, this is now less common. “Even if they have a property department, some other firms can use us in our notaire capacity.”
The clients advised by Le Breton & Associés come from a broad international background, although the deals tend to be based in France. In 2004 31 per cent of clients were UK-based, 21 per cent came from Germany, 15 per cent from Italy, just 14 per cent from France and 12 per cent were US-based. Deals range from refinancing major commercial developments and advising on the sale of hotels and offices in Paris to construction and planning transactions.
Le Breton sees his firm as offering a unique service to clients and other law firms, combining Anglo-Saxon experience and linguistic skills with the best traditions of the French legal system.
“For the moment,” he says, “there’s a lot of interest.”