Chambers Global France International Capabilities

International & Cross Border Capabilities: France Overview

In the International & Cross Border Capabilities sections, Chambers highlights the law firms which are identified by clients as the best and most user-friendly to work with when matters involve international aspects that require the lawyers to consider, manage and advise on issues that are happening across different countries and jurisdictions.

All the firms listed in the France section offer strong capabilities to serve clients who are seeking a legal team with significant resources in France, but also the ability to excel in international work.

Frequently, the firms specified have been picked out by clients for their strengths in some or all of the following:

• co-ordinating advice on connected transactions, court procedures or regulatory issues in different countries as a lead counsel;
• providing global reach and giving clients access to top-quality legal advice in all the markets in which they need help;
• providing seamless and integrated legal services to clients, which creates a user-friendly experience across borders; and
• helping clients in international matters through specific knowledge or experience of sector or industry practices worldwide.

Global Trends in the French Market:

France is one of the major European and global hubs for international work, benefiting from various positive trends in cross-border investment between the US, continental Europe and Asia. France is also a gateway to French-speaking Africa and an important home to international arbitration. Many firms have taken a strategic decision to invest in their French operations and boost their cross-border capabilities.

French independent firms:

Top-end independent firms have been catching up with their peers from the US and UK in terms of developing their appeal to clients for the project-management of international matters. Firms with the strongest market position and most mature international practices, such as Bredin Prat, Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier and Gide Loyrette Nouel are well versed in acting in a lead or co-lead counsel role in international transactions and are often seen competing with international firms for higher-end transactions by partnering with leading firms abroad. For example, on transactions with a US angle, Bredin Prat will often partner with Cravath, Swaine & Moore, or Darrois with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Leading French firms are also increasingly active on cross-border European matters. Bredin Prat performs particularly strongly due to its membership of the prestigious best-friends network with top-tier UK firm Slaughter & May. The two are often seen co-counselling a client with other top-notch independent firms, against an international firm as a counterparty. Gide is also part of an esteemed European best-friends network which includes Cuatrecasas in Spain, Gleiss Lutz in Germany and Chiomenti in Italy, and is also taking an active role both on European, as well as African matters.

International firms in France:

Paris-based international firms can be differentiated on the basis of their market penetration and the spread and depth of their offering. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is regarded as a standout firm in the French market in this regard, having been an early arrival amongst international firms in Paris and having taken the approach to grow its office organically, gaining a reputation of being similar to a local firm in culture. Magic circle firms, growing beyond their London centre have also taken the full-service approach and have been successful in gaining the market share for high-level cross-border work. All appeal to global clients looking for top-level full-service support and a seamless offering. These firms are not only picked for pan-European and Asian matters, but their New York platforms are becoming increasingly involved in French matters. The magic circle international firms have also developed strong regional desks, with particularly well-developed African project-finance practices.

There are many US-centred international firms in Paris which tend to be strong in core transactional areas. For example, Weil Gotshal & Manges has performed strongly in private equity and restructuring, White & Case has ranked well in the capital markets arena, and Latham & Watkins offers top-notch private equity and leveraged finance practices, while the Paris teams of all these firms are strongly linked with their solid US and UK bases.

Interest and activity in certain specialisms, such as technology, have increased, with a rise in cross-border activity between France and the US in this sector. Apart from heavyweights such as Latham & Watkins, which can draw heavily on its Californian and nationwide technology practice in the US as well as its Paris team, the other two firms that have stood out in this field are DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie. Both of those firms play a significant role for mid-market clients in France, offering strong expertise in regulated industries and extensive coverage across the globe.