French corporate boutiques suffer as Anglo-Saxon firms thrive

France’s leading independent corporate firms Bredin Prat and Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier both saw a drop in income in an otherwise strong financial year in France.

Anglo-Saxon law firms in Paris are winning business from Bredin Prat and Darrois Villey, which have traditionally dominated the French corporate market. Turnover dropped four per cent at Bredin to EUR45m and nine per cent at Darrois to EUR33m.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has shot up the league tables after a stellar year in which it recorded a 19.5 per cent turnover increase in its Paris office.

The figures, compiled by French legal publication Juristes Associés, show that in the calendar year 2005 most firms enjoyed some growth. The top 50 firms in France saw turnover rise by an average of 9.5 per cent.

Freshfields has retained its position as the largest Anglo-Saxon firm operating in France with turnover of EUR106.5m. After a poor 2004 the firm pulled away from nearest rival Clifford Chance, which also had a good year with a revenue increase of 10 per cent to EUR97.9m.

Clifford Chance’s French managing partner Yves Wehrli said: “The market has been a pretty active market. Our strategy is clearly paying off – clients do need a full-service approach.”

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw saw the biggest increase in turnover of the top 50. Revenues rose an astonishing 63 per cent to EUR22m, with revenue per lawyer also high at EUR733,000.

US firm White & Case also had a good year, breaking into the top 10 for the first time after a 9 per cent increase to EUR53.3m.

However other French independent firms, including DePardieu Brocas Maffei, JeantetAssociés and August & Debouzy had good years with turnover going up to EUR25.2m, EUR34.37m and EUR25m respectively.