Chambers Global Germany International Capabilities

Germany: International & Cross Border Capabilities

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 Germany section offer strong capabilities to serve clients who are seeking a legal team with significant resources in Germany, 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 German Market:

As one of Europe’s key financial centres and a hub for cross-border work, Germany’s legal market attracts major global players, creating fierce competition for talent with the more established firms in the market. In response to this, strong German-centred firms have also been successfully spurring their own global operations to tap into the vast opportunities the international markets offer. International work in the country is driven by a huge inflow of investment from the US and Asia, particularly China, as well as strong activity on the part of German multinationals in Europe and beyond. In the contentious space, there has also been a rise in cross-border instructions, with the diesel emissions scandal fuelling a host of international work.

The German independent firms operating at the high end of the market have not only been successful in their domestic market but have also become highly influential on an international level. Hengeler Mueller, supported by its prestigious best-friends group, has acted of late as an international lead counsel on some very high-profile multi-jurisdictional matters. Gleiss Lutz has also won and co-ordinated major cross-border cases involving German multinationals. These two firms are perceived as particularly strong examples of German firms that are developing their contentious and transactional cross-border capabilities and are familiar names in the global legal space. Noerr has also made a significant impact, particularly on mid-size transactions, and offers a strong pitch to mid-cap international companies investing in Germany and the rest of CEE. Other German law firms are also developing their international capabilities, particularly in specialised areas, such as IP.

Among the renowned international players there have been several different approaches to the German market. Some of the more prominent players, such as Freshfields and Linklaters, have retained their pre-eminent positions across the full spectrum of international work, others have taken a more specialised route. There are also some successful examples of the one-stop shop international model, especially at the mid-market level.

A leader among the more established international firms is Freshfields, which has been described as the pre-eminent 'Anglo-Saxon/German' firm to underline its equally strong position in high-end work across both the UK and Germany. Other magic circle firms also maintain strong traction in the German market, finding a place among clients’ top choices for an international lead counsel role on work centred in Germany.

US-centred international firms have been gaining ground in Germany, with some poaching talent from more established firms. Cross-border work is central to these firms’ identity and role in the market. Viewed as a leader in the group of US players is Latham & Watkins, which has made some very strong lateral hires in Germany, boosting its resources and quickly climbing up the rankings.

Some other US as well as UK firms have opted for smaller-scale operations and have made an impact in a particular niche. Sullivan & Cromwell is one such example of an up-and-coming firm with a very prominent position in the private equity sphere and a growing M&A practice, securing lead roles on some landmark European mergers. Watson Farley & Williams has done an outstanding job by making Germany the main hub of its excellent renewable energy practice.

A number of firms receive very strong endorsement from the market for mid-market matters with international aspects. These include Taylor Wessing and McDermott Will & Emery, which are praised for having solid local operations as well as a vast network of international contacts to tap into across the world. Another firm strongly praised for its cross-border capabilities, which has been impactful on a mid to lower-end range of transactions, is Dentons. It has become a firm of choice for some smaller mid-sized clients who are attracted to its incredibly vast global network.