The European 100 2014, firms 1-5

INDEX

This is an executive summary. To access the full report with profiles of the top 50 firms and detailed analysis of historical trends, click here.

1. Garrigues

Managing partner: Fernando Vives

Staff: 2,134

Fee-earners: 1,594

Qualified lawyers: 1,417

Partners: 289

Equity partners: 261

Female partners: 41

Female equity partners: 35

Turnover: €331.9m

Revenue per lawyer: €234k

Revenue per partner: €1.15m

Revenue per equity partner: €1.27m

Headquartered: Spain

Networks and relationships: Taxand, World Services Group

Key clients: BBVA, Banco Santander, IAG, Telefónica, Iberdrola, OHL

The gap between Europe’s largest law firm Garrigues and its closest rival Fidal narrowed significantly this year after the Iberian giant saw a turnover drop of 1.7 per cent to €331.9m for the 2012/13 financial year, which ended on 31 August. 

Headcount at Garrigues also fell. The firm’s qualified lawyer numbers were down by 8 per cent between 2011/12 and 2012/13 and lawyer numbers dropped by 10 per cent, to 1,417 lawyers and 1,594 fee-earners. Overall, Garrigues employed 2,134 people last year – down from 2,372 staff in 2011/12. 

This reduction in headcount has not been seen at partner level. Garrigues is in the process of moving towards an all-equity partnership – a decision made at the end of 2010/11 – and its equity partnership now stands at 261, or 90 per cent of the total partnership of 289. Garrigues had a net gain of 10 equity partners last year, and a net gain of one partner overall.

It made up 10 lawyers directly into the equity at the start of the financial year and promoting five salaried partners to equity partner. Promotions remained high for 2013/14 too, with 14 made up.

Managing partner Fernando Vives said the firm was continuing to focus on efficiency and keeping costs down. He added Garrigues had done well to maintain its turnover over the past five years, despite the recent fall.

Garrigues still operates across more than 25 offices in Spain and Portugal, as well as several in other jurisdictions. It closed down its Almeria office in September 2012 and has slimmed down its Burgos and León offices, although it maintains a presence in both. The firm continues to monitor the need for its smaller Spanish offices.

Garrigues is now moving towards a far more international strategy. In May 2013 it pulled out of its Latin American alliance and began the process of launching its own offices in South America. Garrigues opened in Colombia early in the 2013/14 financial year and plans are  advanced for launches in Mexico and Peru.

2. Fidal

Managing partner: Régis Lassabe

Staff: 2,178

Fee-earners: 1,324

Qualified lawyers: 1,171

Partners: 628

Equity partners: 321

Female partners: 209

Female equity partners: 64

Turnover: €322.6m

Revenue per lawyer: €275k

Revenue per partner: €514k

Revenue per equity partner: €1m

Headquartered: France

Networks and relationships: Best friends with Siqueira Castro (Brazil), Miller Thomson (Canada), Abreu Advogados (Portugal)

Key clients: Not disclosed

Fidal had a solid 2013, with revenue rising by 1.6 per cent to €322.6m. Profitability, however, remained extraordinarily low with the firm providing a net profit figure of €2.4m.

The firm saw a decrease in overall headcount last year, with total staff numbers falling from 2,246 in 2012 to 2,178 last year. Fee-earner numbers dropped from 1,417 to 1,324 and qualified lawyer numbers from 1,350 to 1,171.

However, the firm continued to add partners. Its total partnership rose by a net total of 13, from 615 the previous year to 628. There was a gain of nine in the equity partnership. Leverage last year was 1:2.6, down from 1:3.3 in 2012.  

Accordingly, while average revenue per lawyer rose from €235,000 in 2012 to €275,000 last year, average revenue per partner and per equity partner dropped slightly. 

Much of the increase in revenue came from outside Paris, with offices in Brittany and south-west France standing out. Fidal was involved in a number of transactions involving Chinese investors acquiring wine interests in Bordeaux, for example. Paris, which accounted for about €100m of revenue, had a flat year.

The firm’s already-high female partnership proportion rose from 32.2 per cent to over 33 per cent, with 20 per cent of the equity partnership female. Both figures put Fidal near the top of the diversity rankings. 

Last year saw the continuation of the firm’s strategy to position itself better on an international front. In 2012 Fidal established an international committee to direct its cross-border activities. The committee is trying to improve Fidal’s relationships with firms in other jurisdictions as well as improve what it does for its 50,000 clients outside France.

As part of this new approach, in early 2014 Fidal merged its two Paris bases. The ‘Paris’ group of about 210 lawyers based in Neuilly-sur-Seine moved into a single building together with the ‘international’ group in Paris’s La Défense business district.

Although independent, Fidal retains good links with big four accountancy firm KPMG and about 30 per cent of revenue is derived from its tax advice.

2013 was the 90th anniversary of the firm’s foundation.

3. Loyens & Loeff

Managing partner: Willem Jarigsma

Staff: 1,446

Fee-earners: 857

Qualified lawyers: 831

Partners: 109

Equity partners: 109

Female partners: 11

Female equity partners: 11

Turnover: €289.3m

Revenue per lawyer: €348k

Revenue per partner: €2.65m

Revenue per equity partner: €2.65m

Headquartered: Netherlands

Networks and relationships: None

Key client s: GDF Suez E&P Nederland, IntercontinentalExchange, Merck Sharp & Dohme, SFX Entertainments Vivendi, Van Gansewinkel Group

2013 was another tough year for Loyens & Loeff, with revenue dropping from €291m to €289.3m. Like others in its market, the firm lost people, with total staff numbers dropping to 1,446 and qualified lawyer numbers falling 4 per cent from 867 to 831.

The firm’s partner headcount also fell by five, from 114 to 109, although the number of female partners remained at 11. Corporate lawyer Vincent Vroom was the only partner promotion in 2013. 

The decrease in numbers at both associate and partner level meant Loyens’ leverage was unchanged at 1:6.6.

Revenue per lawyer rose slightly from €336,000 to €348,000,and revenue per partner rose by €10,000 to €2.65m.

Taking a long-term view, Loyens has seen a slight increase in turnover over the past five years. It recorded revenue of €284m in 2009, meaning growth since then was 1.9 per cent, but last year’s result was somewhat down on the €296m reported in 2010.

2010 was also the year in which the firm employed the most people, with 1,534 staff including 878 lawyers. However, partner numbers fell from 120 in 2009 to 111 in 2010.

Litigation and tax work has helped keep Loyens’ revenue more or less stable in recent years, but there was some corporate work too. Deals included the $6.9bn (€4.9bn) privatisation of BMC Software, on which Loyens advised a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital, working alongside Kirkland & Ellis .

The firm also provided Dutch and Belgian advice to IntercontinentalExchange on its $8.2bn takeover of the New York Stock Exchange. Work on the deal continued throughout 2013 before the transaction closed in late 2013.

In early 2014 Loyens elected a new management board, led by banking partner Willem Jarigsma. Jarigsma is the first non-tax lawyer to take the lead role at Loyens. He replaced Maarten van der Weijden, who stepped down from the firm’s helm after four years – the maximum allowed.

4. Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira

Chief executive officer: Rafael Fontana

Staff: 1,352

Fee-earners: 910

Qualified lawyers: 863

Partners: 219

Equity partners: 202

Female partners: 30

Female equity partners: 24

Turnover: €248m

Revenue per lawyer: €287k

Revenue per partner: €1.13m

Revenue per equity partner: €1.23m

Headquartered: Spain

Networks and relationships: World Law Group; also in an alliance with Chiomenti, Gide Loyrette Nouel and Gleiss Lutz

Key clients: Abertis, Banco Popular, CaixaBank, ING, H&M

Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira had another year of slight growth in 2013, with revenue rising 1 per cent from €245.6m in 2012. Headcount fell slightly, pushing up revenue per lawyer by €8,000 to €287,000 and revenue per partner from €1.1m to €1.13m.

Cuatrecasas is the only Spanish firm to have recorded five successive years of growth, although its total expansion in terms of revenue in the past years is small at just 5.5 per cent.

While the firm’s total partner headcount has slipped from 224 partners in 2012 to 219 last year, Cuatrecasas continues to add to its equity partnership following a 2012 decision to bring all its partners into the equity. As a result, leverage has dropped from 1:3.4 in 2012 to 1:3.3 last year.

All the growth in the equity partnership was male. Cuatrecasas reported that it had 24 female equity partners in 2012, a decrease of one from the previous year, while its total female partnership remained static at 30.

Revenue was derived primarily from the firm’s corporate and finance teams, which together contributed just over 33 per cent of turnover. The firm’s tax team produced 32.5 per cent of revenue and litigation 23.5 per cent.

Chief executive Rafael Fontana said litigation had been a big revenue driver for the past year, although corporate work had begun to pick up in the last quarter.

The number of partners employed in each of these teams is roughly equal to their turnover importance. The corporate and finance teams housed 86 partners, with 66 in tax and 50 in litigation.

Cuatrecasas’s Portuguese offices performed particularly well, with a 6.4 per cent increase in turnover.

International work remains a focus, with Cuatrecasas growing steadily closer to its European allies in France, Germany and Italy.

5. Hengeler Mueller

Managing partners: Daniela Favoccia, Matthias Hentzen

Staff: 560

Fee-earners: 253

Qualified lawyers: 253

Partners: 90

Equity partners: 90

Female partners: 3

Female equity partners: 3

Turnover: €226.8m*

Revenue per lawyer: €896k

Revenue per partner: €2.52m

Revenue per equity partner: €2.52m

Headquartered: Germany

Networks and relationships: Best friends with Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Bredin Prat, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Slaughter and May and Uría Menéndez

Key clients: Deutsche Bank, ThyssenKrupp, Siemens, Eon, Deutsche Telekom, Fresenius

A solid year on the M&A front and increased headcount meant that our estimate of Hengeler Mueller’s turnover was up this year, from €212m to €226.8m – a rise of 7 per cent, in line with the German market.

Hengeler added 14 lawyers and four partners to its headcount between 2012 and 2013. Its workforce is now larger than at any time in the past five years. The four new partners were all internal promotions, with the Frankfurt office gaining two and Düsseldorf and Munich one each.

All Hengeler’s partners are in the equity. The firm’s leverage sits at 1:1.8, the same as in the previous year. None of last year’s new partners were women, so the firm’s female partnership proportion has sunk even lower to only 3.3 per cent, or three out of 90. The firm did promote four women as counsel, which is a position roughly equivalent to other outfits’ salaried partner, but despite much talk about improving diversity it is still not being seen at partner level.

Hengeler strengthened its presence outside Germany last year. In the summer it relocated private equity partner Steffen Oppenländer to London to deepen its offering in the City.

Towards the end of 2013 the firm announced it was joining its best friends De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Slaughter and May and Uría Menéndez in China through a launch in Shanghai. The move was in response to a growing number of China-related deals, particularly involving in-bound investment from the country into Germany.

Once again Hengeler dominated the German M&A league tables, winning a role on 42 deals worth more than $50bn in total, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Major transactions included advising Kabel Deutschland on its €7.7bn takeover by Vodafone.

To access the full report with profiles of the top 50 firms and detailed analysis of historical trends, click here.