Accountants and foreign firms come top in French fees table

A survey of French law firms has revealed that they are losing the fight against the accountancy-linked giants and Anglo-Saxon rivals.

Fidal, KPMG’s affiliated firm, has increased the gap between itself and its competitors with gross fees nearly double the size of Landwell’s, the second-placed firm.

International firms and the big five accountancy firms have seen the most growth, and together they can now claim to employ 54 per cent of fee-earners and generate 49 per cent of the overall national turnover.

“International firms such as Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy arrived, set up office, and then poached all the partners,” says Caura Barszcz, author of both the report and newsletter Juristes Associés. “The market is getting increasingly better for international firms, and increasingly worse for national firms.”

Turnover for international firms’ Paris offices has increased by an average of 20 per cent on last year. However, national firms with specialist practices have also been successful. “Niche firms specialising in intellectual property, IT, tax and M&A are all doing very well,” says Barszcz.

Firms outside Paris, though, have suffered. “Business law is very active in Paris, but the rest of the country has been sidelined,” notes Barszcz.

The survey comes from Guide des Cabinets d’Avocats d’affaires (Guide to Business Law Firms).

Last year Fidal also topped the table with an income of FFr1,125m (£112.5m), while Clifford Chance and Freshfields came in seventh and ninth respectively. Gide Loyrette Nouel this year suffered a slight drop in income, from FFr467m (£46.7m) to FFr466.8m (£44.7m).