Growth rockets for French firms

New figures released today show that the top 100 French firms are now collectively turning over almost €3.2bn (£2.5bn), a 412 per cent increase from 20 years ago.

An annual ranking produced by French legal publication Juristes Associés has calculated that the largest 100 firms in France, including international firms’ French offices, now employ 2,737 partners, 9,568 lawyers and 14,627 staff while turning over €3.18bn.

That is a steep climb from the 1,338 partners, 4,363 lawyers, 7,336 staff and revenue of just €617m recorded in 1992, the first year the ranking was published.

The top 100 firms grew most in the ten years between 1991 and 2001, with revenues climbing to €2.1bn in that period.

On average over the past 20 years, the top 10 firms have increased turnover by 6.7 per cent a year. They have increased their partnership by 1.7 per cent, and the total number of lawyers by 2.8 per cent a year.

French giant Fidal remains the largest firm in France, with 1,358 lawyers at the end of 2011. Four of the largest five firms – Fidal, Ernst & Young, Landwell & Associés and Taj – either have or have had an association with one of the Big Four accountancy firms.

Clifford Chance is the biggest international firm in France, employing 194 lawyers, up from 182 in 2010.

Fidal is also the largest firm by turnover, recording revenues of €309.8m in 2011. CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre, the French member of the CMS network, was the second largest by revenue with turnover of €153.2m in 2011.

Ernst & Young was third by turnover, leapfrogging Gide Loyrette Nouel whose revenues from France dropped by 6.6 per cent between 2010 and 2011 to €133.8m.

Again Clifford Chance is the largest international firm by turnover. Juristes Associés said the firm brought in €105.7m in France in 2011, an 11 per cent increase from 2010.

Of the international firms in Paris, SJ Berwin had the greatest increase in turnover between 2010 and 2011. The figures showed turnover grew by 22.7 per cent, to €26.5m.

Over the past 10 years the number of newer firms has increased significantly. In 2001 76 per cent of firms in France were at least 10 years old, but by 2011 the percentage of firms in existence for at least a decade had dropped to 67.4 per cent.

However there has been little change in the number of firms in existence for over 30 years. These now represent 18.1 per cent of the market, compared to 16 per cent in 2001.