FRANCE ARC DE TRIOMPHE, PARIS
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
Anastasia Hancock reports
WHILE some European countries battened own the hatches as their markets weathered the storm, in contrast France saw record levels of movement in its legal market. The past year saw not
only some significant partner and team moves, but also
witnessed the opening of a number of new players, such
as Wragge & Co, French domestic Quadrige, Hoyng
Monegier, and Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie.
However, France, as one of the most mature markets in
Europe, is still in a state of recovery and restructuring of
both companies and law firms alike is continuing apace.
Thierry Bernard, one of the founders of new firm Quadrige,
which opened in 2010, explains that this theme began in
earnest last year. ‘An important trend of demergers, which
is still going on in 2011, has affected a number of large or
medium-sized business law firms while a creation stage of
new business law firms is currently under way. If the reasons for such trends partly lie in the history of each concerned law firm, there are deeper reasons as well’.
Although the French legal market is undoubtedly a
mature one, the majority of true commercial French business law firms are relatively young compared with the
London and US market. ‘Methods for perpetuating and
handing over a firm have not been found yet. Obviously,
a number of firms’ founders did not succeed in establishing management rules that could allow the forty-some-thing generation that has been appointed as partners in
the last past ten years to find their place’ says Bernard.
This would certainly go some way towards explaining
the number of boutiques that have sprung up over Paris
since the downturn took hold. ‘Most of them decided to
create their own law firm made up of five to ten lawyers,
which has reactivated the market as this type of structure
is probably more adapted to an economic crisis period’
The French legal market has been dominated by a real
shift, and while this does not make for a stable law firm
model, recruitment levels have gone through the roof.