The Lawyer European 100 rank2

French law firm Fidal remains an anomaly among the large European firms, although it shares commonalities with Garrigues and Loyens & Loeff through a strong background in tax work. The firm was originally founded in Grenoble in 1923 as a tax practice known as ‘The Fiduciary of France’ and moved into Paris in 1924. Rapid expansion meant Fidal had 24 offices already by 1928 and it added law to its offering in 1933. Fidal started internationalising early through offices in

French law firm Fidal remains an anomaly among the large European firms, although it shares commonalities with Garrigues and Loyens & Loeff through a strong background in tax work.

The firm was originally founded in Grenoble in 1923 as a tax practice known as ‘The Fiduciary of France’ and moved into Paris in 1924. Rapid expansion meant Fidal had 24 offices already by 1928 and it added law to its offering in 1933.

Fidal started internationalising early through offices in francophone north Africa, and bolted on the French arm of international tax practice Peat Marwick in 1986, a year before Peat Marwick and accountancy firm KMG merged to form KPMG. Fidal would remain closely linked with KPMG for many years.

In 1991 a legislative change merged the professions of ‘avocat’ and ‘conseil juridique’ – similar to the UK’s solicitor and barrister denominations – and Fidal promptly badged itself as “France’s first law firm”.

Fidal was a key member of KPMG’s legal network KLegal, which was forced to disband after the Enron scandal. Although structurally Fidal’s lawyers are fully independent from KPMG, on the tax front the two still have a close working relationship.

In the past few years Fidal has attempted to strengthen its ties internationally through a string of office openings and announcements of joint ventures and networks, most recently with Mills & Reeve in the UK. It has also been trying to grow its profile in the field of corporate law. Despite these efforts it still has a low profile outside its home jurisdiction.

Fidal is present across France with more than 90 offices scattered over the country and thousands of clients – although it does not normally provide a list of its key clientele. Tax continues to bring in the bulk of the law firm’s revenue.

Partners are on a modified lockstep with a heavy salaried element. Around half of all Fidal’s lawyers are partners although less than half the partnership is in the equity.

In terms of headcount, Fidal is the largest law firm in Europe by a considerable margin, employing well over 2,000 people.

Fidal’s leadership consists of an executive committee which, since 2012, has been presided over by employment partner Régis Lassabe and director-general Yves de Sevin, a tax partner. Both have been members of the executive since 2008 and were re-elected to their leadership roles in 2016 for a second four-year term.

Lassabe succeeded Jean Gousset in the role of president after the latter’s term came to an end.