Bredin Prat, Darrois feel the heat in France

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

Anglo-Saxon law firms in Paris are winning business from Bredin Prat and Darrois, which have traditionally dominated the French corporate market. Turnover dropped by 4 per cent at Bredin Prat to e45m (£30.97m) and 9 per cent at Darrois to e35m (£24.09m).

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 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 a turnover of e106.5m (£73m). After a poor 2004 the firm pulled away from nearest rival Clifford Chance, which also had a good year, posting a revenue increase of 10 per cent.

Clifford Chance France managing partner Yves Wehrli said: “The market’s been pretty active. 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. Its revenue rose by an astonish-ing 63 per cent to e22m (£15.08m), with revenue per lawyer also high at e733,000 (£503,000).

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 e53.3m (£36.53m).

Despite the travails of Bredin Prat and Darrois, other French independent firms, including DePardieu Brocas Maffei, Jeantet- Associés and August & Debouzy, had good years with turnovers going up.

Firms having associations with accountants continue to suffer. Turnovers at both Ernst & Young Société d’Avocats and Taj were down by more than 17 per cent to e97m (£66.49m) and e54.3m (£37.23m) respectively. At former Pricewaterhouse-Coopers associate firm Landwell income was static at e98m (£67.17m).

Fidal, previously part of the KLegal network, was the only former accountancy-tied firm to see any growth. Income rose by 6 per cent to e265m (£181.65m). The firm is by far the largest in France, with 1,250 fee-earners.

top 30 firms in france by 2005 turnover