International report: Ginestié Magellan Paley-Vincent, france

Managing partner:

Françoise Ciaudo-Ginestié
Turnover 2004: €10m (£6.8m)
Estimated turnover 2005: €15m (£10.1m)
Total number of partners: 18
Total number of fee-earners: 60
Main practice areas: Commercial, corporate, employment and tax
Key clients: Apax Partners, Castorama, the Moulin family
Number of offices: Four
Locations: London, Lyon, Milan and Paris

For a French law firm, Ginestié Magellan Paley-Vincent is quite unusual. Although like many of its rivals it bears the name of its founder and works mainly for small companies and management boards, the firm differs from its competitors in one key aspect: it has international offices and international aspirations.

The firm was founded in 1973 by Philippe Ginestié and is now managed by his wife, Françoise Ciaudo-Ginestié. With 18 partners and around 40 additional lawyers, it is comparable in size to firms such as Jeantet Associés.

For many years Ginestié – operating as Ginestié Paley-Vincent & Associés – was part of DLA’s international alliance. Ciaudo-Ginestié says the association was of great benefit to the firm, enabling it to profit from the knowhow of partner firms in other jurisdictions. But when DLA decided to integrate its international firms, Ginestié pulled out, choosing instead to work alone on its own plans.

In February 2005 the firm merged with Magellan, another small independent firm with offices in Paris and Lyon. Ciaudo-Ginestié says the firm was planning to expand into the French provinces anyway and had been thinking tentatively of Lille, but that Magellan’s presence in Lyon made sense.

The firm has already hired CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre tax partner Rémi Gouyet to boost numbers and expertise.

Ginestié’s Milan office was launched in May this year, while its London office has been established since 1999. Partner Anne-Manuelle Gaillet in Milan is dual-qualified and able to practise law in both France and Italy, while Marcus Rebuck in London is a French-speaking solicitor.

Ciaudo-Ginestié believes the arrangement works well. “French clients have someone with whom the discussion is easier,” she says. “Someone who’s very knowledgeable in French law.”

Further expansion is certain, but is likely to come about slowly. “We’re not in favour of very rapid growth,” explains Ciaudo-Ginestié. She says that the culture of the firm is important and advocates a close working relationship with clients. These include French DIY giant Castorama and the owners of department store Galeries Lafayette, the Moulin family.

Now Ginestié is examining its international profile. The DLA alliance worked, but the firm is looking for something a little different for the future. “More than best friends,” is how Ciaudo-Ginestié describes the plans, adding: “Individuals are more important than the brand.”

Location is also key, as is knowledge of French law. China is one place the firm will be looking at – indeed, Ciaudo-Ginestié gives it priority over the US. So more international offices are possible, but Ginestié does not have the same growth ambitions as the likes of Gide Loyrette Nouel.

Françoise Ciaudo-Ginestié
Managing partner
Ginestié Magellan Paley-Vincent, france