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As lawyers in London fret about the possible longer-term consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, their German counterparts are trying their best to appear sympathetic, while suppressing delighted smiles.

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Law Firms Mentioned

<a href="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Clifford Chance
  • Cravath Swaine Moore
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Linklaters
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/378/2017/10/Berlin-Article-201710031221.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-67594" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Clifford Chance
  • Cravath Swaine Moore
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Linklaters
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/378/2017/10/Berlin-Article-201710031221.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="372" /></a> As lawyers in London fret about the��possible longer-term consequences of the UKs decision to leave the European Union, their German counterparts are trying their best to appear sympathetic, while suppressing delighted smiles. The longer-term outcome of Brexit is still impossible to predict, but it does seem increasingly likely to have a net benefit to the German economy ��� and by extension, to law firms practising in the country. "Where the uncertainty is paralysing the UK, it is actually helping increase activity here," says Dirk Bliesener, co-managing partner at leading German firm Hengeler Mueller. "It is very hard to think of a single practice area that is��not rising." Much has been made of the potential shift of business from the UK to Germany ��� particularly in financial services, where the expected loss of so-called passporting rights will have a significant impact on institutions running EU operations out of London. The process has already begun, with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, UBS and Nomura among those to have expanded their presence in Germany following the referendum last summer. Lawyers say that while international banks are seeking to minimise any disruption to their business, regulators have made it clear that simply setting up a front office in Germany and continuing to handle everything out of London is not going to cut it. While the involvement of lawyers has so far largely been confined to regulatory and more general advisory work, law firms expect to see increased activity across a broad range of practices once relocation plans are set in motion. <blockquote>Germany has become a safe haven for foreign investors</blockquote> German lawyers are also benefiting from the fact that the uncertainty currently clouding the London market makes Germanys stable and strong economy an even more appealing investment proposition. "Germany has become a safe haven for foreign investors," says Clifford Chance (CC) regional managing partner Peter Dieners. Lawyers report strong client demand across the board, from real estate to energy and even equity capital markets, which has generally been quiet across the region. Law firms in Germany are also being kept busy by a continued compliance and investigations boom that was kick-started by the bribery scandal at German engineering giant Siemens in the mid-2000s and recently hit the headlines once again with <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/03/16/german-prosecutors-raid-jones-days-munich-office-in-volkswagen-investigation/">the Volkswagen dieselgate</a> affair. A burgeoning fintech industry is attracting investment from a buoyant German private equity market, while M&amp;A is active across a range of sectors, including the traditional core of industrial, machinery and equipment, and infrastructure. Earlier this summer, German gas companies Linde and Praxair agreed to a $73bn merger that created roles for Cravath Swaine &amp; Moore, Linklaters, Hengeler and Sullivan &amp; Cromwell. Chinese investors continue to target German equipment and technology, with state-owned funds such as China Investment Corporation driving big-ticket deals. Chinese companies are also pursuing the Mittelstand ��� a group of small to medium-sized and often family-owned enterprises that form a key part of the countrys economy. The favourable market conditions have brought Germany to the fore of many Big Law agendas. CMS, Eversheds, Kirkland &amp; Ellis and Sidley Austin are among the firms to have ramped up their German presence during the past 12 months. Latham &amp; Watkins <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/06/07/we-want-to-be-on-a-par-with-freshfields-latham-germany-chief-sets-out-bold-2020-strategy/">has been particularly aggressive</a>, bringing in a slew of high-profile partners from <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2016/09/05/latham-continues-european-finance-push-with-hire-of-ao-emea-capital-markets-co-head/">Allen &amp; Overy</a>, <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/annaward/2015/08/17/latham-hires-clifford-chance-german-banking-and-capital-markets-head/">CC</a>, <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/annaward/2016/05/03/latham-hires-freshfields-competition-partner-in-germany/">Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer</a> and <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/annaward/2016/01/27/latham-continues-german-buyout-push-with-hire-of-linklaters-local-head/">Linklaters</a>. <a href="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Clifford Chance
  • Cravath Swaine Moore
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Linklaters
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/378/2017/05/Oliver_Felsenstein_MIT-002-Article-201705240657.jpg"><img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-60654" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Clifford Chance
  • Cravath Swaine Moore
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Linklaters
  • Sidley Austin

/uploads/sites/378/2017/05/Oliver_Felsenstein_MIT-002-Article-201705240657-300x181.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="181" /></a>"Were not growing for the sake of it. Were very bullish about Germany," says Lathams local managing partner Oliver Felsenstein (pictured). "There is uncertainty ��� we arent entirely isolated from what happens in Europe ��� but the economy is very strong and things are looking good." The picture isnt entirely positive, however. With competition among law firms in Germany intensifying, it has becoming a buyers market. Firms are facing a double whammy of having to pay more to attract and retain talent while feeling intensified fee pressure from clients, particularly the DAX 30, Germanys largest listed companies. Law firms interactions with these corporate titans are increasingly being run by procurement teams rather than in-house legal departments, with panels and competitive auctions being used to drive down prices. Discounts of up to 30% are not uncommon, lawyers say. The resulting squeeze on profitability is exacerbated by the fact that lawyers are paid more in Germany than anywhere else on the planet except for the US. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the magic circle firms have each carried out <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/05/08/freshfields-to-cut-german-partner-numbers-by-up-to-20-in-profitability-push/">strategic</a> <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/06/27/allen-overy-downgrades-germany-partners-in-lockstep-shake-up/">reviews</a> in Germany during the past 18 months, which have resulted in <a href="http://www.legalweek.com/sites/legalweek/2017/05/15/cuts-closures-and-lockstep-reform-whats-next-for-the-magic-circle-in-germany/">restructuring practices and modifying their lockstep partner compensation systems</a>. These changes have also partly been prompted by a broader profitability drive designed to help finance their expansion in the US. "Its not just about profitability ��� its about being properly aligned with the global strategy," says CCs Dieners. "We may have been slightly oversized in the past, but now were much more robust." <

  • Clifford Chance
  • Cravath Swaine Moore
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Linklaters
  • Sidley Austin

>
 

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