Return of the independent – how independent law firms are outperforming global rivals in Germany
It is 23 years since international firms were first allowed to practise local law in Germany. Glance down the list of today's top 20 German firms (by number of lawyers and by revenue) and 75% of them are familiar magic circle names and Wall Street powerhouses, supplemented by a range of UK and US firms with global ambitions. It goes deeper: of the top 50 firms, barely a third are independent. But something interesting has been happening in Germany – from Frankfurt to Stuttgart, the independents are fighting back. Recent data shows that independent firms' annual revenues have increased by 6%-7%, the best figures among independents in all European jurisdictions, while their international counterparts have flatlined. Andreas Urban, managing partner at mid-size independent Heuking Kuhn, says: "There is stagnation among the top law firms – if you look at the top 10, many of them have relatively low growth rates, very flat. A lot of firms below that are developing higher growth rates. There is a shift by clients going to these firms."
Germany is seeing a resurgence in independent law firms with growth in the sector outstripping the increasingly stagnant international firms, explains Dominic Carman
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