Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés

Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés is growing in a shrinking market. The firm’s turnover has grown by a steady 10-15 per cent each year for the past decade, hitting E38m (£25.44m) in 2006 despite the loss of two partners to other firms and one to retirement during the year.

Firm:

Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés
Managing partner: Pierre Appremont
Turnover: €38m (£25.44m)
Total number of lawyers: 140
Total number of partners: 30
Main practice areas: Real estate, corporate, finance, employment, insurance
Key clients: Accor, Credit Suisse
Offices: Three
Locations: Paris, Guangzhou (China), Hong Kong

Lefèvre Pelletier & Associés is growing in a shrinking market. The firm’s turnover has grown by a steady 10-15 per cent each year for the past decade, hitting E38m (£25.44m) in 2006 despite the loss of two partners to other firms and one to retirement during the year.

“What’s interesting is that 10 years ago we were one among maybe 15 independent French firms and today we’re one of a few remaining French law firms,” says managing partner Pierre Appremont.

Lefèvre Pelletier is the product of a 1993 merger between Lefèvre & Associés and Pelletier & Associés. Both firms were orientated strongly towards the real estate sector, with Pelletier bringing a notary practice to Lefèvre’s offering. As Appremont puts it: “At that date Lefèvre Pelletier became one of the most important real estate law firms.”

However, it became apparent that the firm needed to diversify in order to grow and so Lefèvre Pelletier began to expand, with lawyers practising in M&A, finance, employment and insurance. Today M&A work accounts for 35 per cent of the firm’s total turnover, with real estate making up another 35 per cent. The remaining share of Lefèvre Pelletier’s income is derived from a mixture of the other practice areas, making it more or less a full-service business law firm.

Recent work includes advising Accor on the E583m (£390.34m) sale of hotels to a consortium of investors and financing work for Credit Suisse.

Appremont believes that Lefèvre Pelletier has an advantage over some of its independent rivals because it has instituted a modern, Anglo-Saxon-style management board. This consists of himself, fellow partner Denis Chardigny and a non-lawyer manager.

“The lawyers who founded the firm aren’t as important in terms of business,” Appremont says, explaining that the board is designed to encourage younger lawyers to develop their own contacts, rather than relying on big-name partners to bring in the work.

Lefèvre Pelletier is also unusual among its independent French rivals because it has chosen to pursue international development. The firm has small offices in Guangzhou in China and Hong Kong. Other overseas branches are a possibility, says Appremont.

“We may develop other offices in the future; we don’t know exactly where,” he says. “We don’t want to set up offices in a country where there’s already a large firm we can work with.”

Possible jurisdictions include North Africa, where there is a heavy French influence but little in the way of a French law presence, apart from Gide Loyrette Nouel’s offices in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Whatever happens, Lefèvre Pelletier is determined to remain independent. “We believe there’s a place for this kind of firm, not just worldwide law firms,” Appremont concludes.