Top 10 Most Prestigious Law Firms in Europe 2023/2024
Based on votes and rankings of many different press agencies, KnowInsiders presents the Top 10 law firms that are not only the largest but also the most prestigious in Europe (excluding the UK).
Check out the Full List of Top 100 Best Law Firm report published by UK publication The Lawyer.
The largest law firms in Europe (not including the United Kingdom) by revenue (in million euros):
The brothers Joaquin and Antonio Garrigues Diaz-Canyabate merged their two small law offices in 1941, creating the “Iberian giant” Garrigues. Over the next 50 years, the business expanded in size and opened offices in New York in 1973 and Brussels the following decade.
It’s possible that Garrigues was the first Spanish law firm to start expanding abroad. He established the Club de Avogados (also known as the Lawyers’ Club), a global network of like-minded businesses, in the 1980s. When Garrigues merged with the Spanish tax and legal division of the auditing company Arthur Andersen in 1997, it marked a significant turning point in his career. The merger worked out well. The number of employees has doubled in just five years, while turnover has increased by 130%.
152 new shareholders were added to the company in 2011 as it transitioned to a more egalitarian structure. Finally, in a modified state, shareholders made up almost 95% of the partnerships.
The company hired Antonio Garrigues Walker, the son of Antonio Garrigues Diaz-Canyabate, in 1954. When his father was appointed Spanish Ambassador to the United States in 1962, he was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors. He held this position for an incredible 52 years before retiring in 2014 at the age of 80. After he retired, the company’s owners appointed him honorary chairman.
From 2001 to 2009, Fernando Vives, the current chairman, served as the company’s corporate and commercial management officer. In 2009, he and tax partner Ricardo Gomez Barreda were named co-management partners.
Jose Maria Alonso and Miguel Gordillo, who led the business from 2000 to 2009, are replaced by Vives and Gomez Barreda.
Garrigues reorganized his leadership in 2011. Gomez Barreda was named the senior partner, and Vives was made the sole managing partner. When Antonio Garrigues retired, Vives changed his title to “Executive President” and Gomez Barreda was chosen again to serve as Senior Partner.
The second-ranked law firm in Europe with the broadest range of tax practices is Loyens & Loeff. It was established in 2000 as a result of the union of non-legal tax consultants Loyens & Volkmaars and the law firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke. About a quarter of our staff members are experts in tax law or consulting.
The business can trace its roots back to its founding to distinct divisions in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The combined company now has offices in eight countries outside the Benelux region, where it is headquartered, even though Legacy Loyens & Volkmaars has expanded internationally while the former Loeff Claeys has not.
The Zurich office is expanding quickly and was most recently released in 2015.
Revenue and the number of employees at Loyens & Loeff have fluctuated in recent years, reaching a peak in 2014, increasing in 2015, slightly declining in 2016, and then rebounding in 2017 and 2018. It is still one of the biggest independent nations in Europe. a business in terms of both revenue and the number of employees.
Corporate governance is the second-largest area of practice for Loyens & Loeff after taxation. The business does provide full services as well as small finance, legal, and real estate teams. In addition to its three Dutch bases in Brussels and Luxembourg, Loyens & Loeff operates seven offices outside the Benelux region. He does not belong to any networks.
The Board of Directors is currently presided over by Loyens & Loeff, with Managing Partner Bram Linnarz and Board Members Marieke Bakker and Thierry Charon. The group was chosen in 2018 to serve a two-year term. Linnartz is serving Willem Jarigsm’s two terms as Managing Partner for the first time. Currently, Jarigsma is based in Loyens’ London office. The 4,444 directors of Loyens & Loeff make up its legal and tax advisory group. Additionally, the managing director and non-executive director are seated side by side in a single-story eight-member model.
Like many of its peers, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has transformed from a family-run business to a significant global player with locations all over the world.
Emilio Cuatrecasas Buquet founded the company in 1917, and a Cuatrecasas family member served as its president for the majority of that time. Pere Cuatrecasas Sabata, who was the son of Cuatrecasas Buquet, and his son Emilio both succeeded their father.
Cuatrecasas was the first Spanish law firm to find a Portuguese merger partner after the Portuguese market opened to foreign firms in 2001. Cuatrecasas-Gonçalves-Pereira extended outside of Iberia, much like the bigger city of Garrigues. With a focus on Latin America, Africa, and Asia, it has 11 offices outside of Iberia.
Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira established partnerships with numerous businesses over the years and was once close friends with Herbert Smith in England. Most recently, he formed a non-exclusive European alliance with French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, Italian Chiomenti, and Gleiss Lutz, a former ally of Herbert Smith. The quartet collaborates closely and has offices in various countries.
Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira employs roughly 1,400 people worldwide, including close to 900 lawyers, and its revenue has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years.
The firm’s two main practice areas are tax and corporate, with corporate accounting for more than one-third of total revenue in 2016 and tax accounting for just under one-third.
Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira split the duties that had previously been Emilio Cuatrecasas’s sole responsibility in 2012, creating a new position of chief executive. Rafael Fontana, the managing director, was promoted to CEO and received full authority over Cuatrecasas.
When Cuatrecasas resigned as firm president, Fontana took over and has continued in it. With help from the other partners, she is in charge of the firm’s board. Although Fontana continues to be the practice’s leader, litigator Jorge Badia was named managing partner in March 2015. He is in charge of the practice’s management.
In April 2019, the pair were reelected, and Badia gained more authority as a result. Emilio Cuatrecasas still works for the company and is the chairman of the partnership board, which has three members.
Because of their extensive tax experience, the French law firm Fidal is comparable to Garrigues and Loyens & Loeff but stands out among the major European businesses.
The business was first established in Grenoble as a tax office under the name “Trustee of France” in 1923, and it later relocated to Paris in 1924. Fidal was able to quickly grow and by 1928 had 24 offices, adding law to the proposal in 1933.
In 1986, a year before Pete Marwick and accounting firm KMG merged to form KPMG, Fidal moved to Pete Marwick’s French international tax practice and started its initial global expansion with offices in French-speaking North Africa. For many years to come, Fidal and KPMG will maintain a close working relationship.
The professions of “avocat” and “consil juridique,” which are comparable to English lawyers and lawyers, were combined in 1991 as a result of a change in the law, and Fidal was immediately established as “the first law firm in France.”
Due to the Enron scandal, Fidal, a significant contributor to the KPMG legal network KLegal, was disbanded. Up until July 2018, when KPMG announced it would soon hire 145 Pidal attorneys in Paris after ending the partnership, they continued to work closely together.
Fidal has made an effort to fortify relationships abroad over the last few years through a number of office openings, joint ventures, and network announcements, most recently with Mills & Reeve in the UK. Additionally, he is attempting to raise his profile in the area of corporate law. They continue to have a low status outside the jurisdiction despite these efforts.
Although Fidal has more than 90 offices and thousands of clients throughout France, it typically does not provide a list of its most important clients. The majority of the income for law firms continues to come from taxes.
A modified higher pay level is in place for affiliates. Less than half of the partnerships have stakes, but about half of Fidal’s attorneys are partners. With over 2,300 staff members, Fidal is the largest law firm in Europe.
The executive committee of Fidal has been led by CEO Regis Lassabe and tax partner President Yves de Seven since 2012. Both individuals were elected to their current positions in 2018 for a two-year term and have served as members of the executive branch since 2008.
Hengeler Mueller, one of the top 10 European law firms historically, was created by the merger of the law firms Hengeler Kurth Wirtz in Düsseldorf and Mueller Weitzel Weisner in Frankfurt.
Hengeler Mueller is still a traditional business focused on high-end work. Although several groups of younger attorneys have left the firm in the past to found boutique firms, it rarely adds and subtracts partners.
The company has a long-standing relationship with the “best friends” group and serves as Slaughter and May’s best partner in Germany. It does have a few overseas locations; the most recent of these opened in Shanghai in 2013 to complement representative offices in Brussels and London.
Hengeler Mueller’s core business is corporate law, but it also has strong but smaller teams in finance, private equity, and capital markets.
With a 12-year pure lock step, Hengeler Mueller has one of the longest lock steps in Europe and has no plans to leave the building. It has made countless attempts to increase the number of female partners in the partnership in recent years, but the percentage of female partners is still appallingly low at under 10%, even though there are now eight female partners, which is significantly better than just three in 2013.
Hengeler Mueller has two managing partners who combine firm management with fee-earning, similar to other German law firms. Georg Frowein and Rainer Krause, the current team, were chosen in 2018.
They replaced corporate partner Georg Seyfarth, who had a four-year term from 2014 to 2018, and finance partner Dirk Bliesener.
One of Europe’s top independent law firms, Noerr, has undergone one of the most significant transformations in recent years, going from solid mid-sized businesses to participating in sizable cross-border deals.
However, Noerr was probably one of the most dynamic German law firms even before this strategic change. Eastern Europe was added to its reach in the 1990s, and since then it has grown to include bases in New York in 2005, London in 2010, Alicante in 2011, and Brussels in 2014.
Since 1989, Noerr has established offices in Berlin, Dresden, and Düsseldorf, as well as more recently in Frankfurt and Munich. When the business spun off its Kiev base into a separate division in 2013, it consolidated some of these offices.
The company’s growth was consistent during the first decade of the new millennium, but it has recently slowed. Although the network revenue is less than 10%, Noerr is aiming to have a presence in Eastern Europe. The
Company has recently been working to position itself as a leading digital business consultant while maintaining a modernization focus. German internet company Rocket, which began as a small startup and is now valued at about 3.5 billion euros, is the trophy client.
Noerr departs from the Eastern Europe office and joins the Lex Mundi network as a German member, frequently collaborating with numerous US and UK businesses outside of their respective legal frameworks. Currently, Noerr employs around 1000 people, including attorneys. The managing partners of the business are referred to as “Speakers,” and the current executives, Tobias Burgers and Alexander Ritvey, were chosen in 2013. Burgers was re-elected, and Ritvey took Dieter Schenk’s place. Together, they collaborate closely to share tasks.
After conducting for 15 years, Schenk retired. Ronald Frohne opened this office and relocated to New York before Bürgers took over as managing partner in 2005. Noerr announced that Burgers would retire at the end of the year in April 2018. Torsten Fett, a Compliance Officer who will collaborate with Ritvey, will take his place.
The law firm that is now known as BonelliErede and was formerly known as Bonelli Erede Pappalardo was created as a result of the three-party merger in 1999. Bonelli e Associati from Genoa, Erede e Associati from Milan, and Pappalardo e Associati from Brussels have combined to form Italy’s largest heritage practice.
The work of BonelliErede is so cutting-edge that, despite some of its rivals having comparable headcounts, the company’s turnover is among the top 10 law firms in Europe, according to the Lawyer European 100. Although Franco Bonelli, Sergio Erede, and Aurelio Pappalardo, the company’s founders, are still employed there, Bonelli Erede has been actively institutionalizing the business over the past few years. The procedure started in 2011 when the business cut schedules, eliminated junior and paid partner positions, and made all partners fully capitalized.
A few years later, managing partners Stefano Simontachki, head of tax and transfer pricing, and Marcello Giustiniani, head of human resources, took over for managing partner Alberto Saravalle, who had served for two years of a three-year term. Another reward modification that increased the emphasis on dedication and efforts to make Bonelli’s career path more transparent went hand in hand with the corporate governance restructuring.
This business collaborates closely with other businesses when conducting international business and is a member of the Slotter and May’s Best Friends group. Although it has historically had a small international presence outside of Italy, in 2016 and 2017 it opened in Ethiopia, Egypt, and Dubai.
The largest portion of BonelliErede’s revenue, or about 44%, comes from corporate operations. Different duties are assigned to each of a law firm’s two managing partners. The creation of the strategy is the responsibility of Simontachki, and internal affairs is the responsibility of Giustiniani.
Simontacci receives reports from the international and business development committees, while Giustiniani receives reports from the IT, employee compensation, partner compensation, and partnership committees. There can only be one board member on each committee.
The Iberian best friend of Slaughter and May, Ura Menéndez, fared reasonably well during the financial crisis; its relative conservatism in comparison to some of its more aggressive local rivals paid off with consistent turnover growth in the last few years after a dip between 2012 and 2013.
The last surviving founding partner of Ura Menéndez, Aurelio Menéndez, passed away in early 2018, but the firm’s family ties are still strong, just like those of the other major Spanish law firms. Nevertheless, it has been a while since a member of the founding family of Ura Menéndez held a prominent management position.
Rodrigo Ura González established the company in 1946. About 30 years later, Menéndez and Ura González’s son Rodrigo Ura Meruéndano joined, and the business was renamed Ura Menéndez.
Around half of Ura Menéndez’s revenue is produced by its sizable corporate team, and Ura’s main source of income comes from roles on the largest M&A transactions. However, it also offers legal, tax, and employment advice.
Ura Menéndez employs a strict lockstep structure, like the majority of its closest allies in Europe. Over 600 lawyers and about 950 other employees work for the firm.
José Mara Segovia and Luis de Carlos were made joint managing partners of Ura Menéndez in 2005. The legal practice changed to a more Anglo-Saxon structure in 2011, with Segovia becoming senior partner and de Carlos serving as the sole managing partner.
Ura Meruéndano was replaced in the management position by Segovia and de Carlos, and he continued to serve as the company’s president until his untimely death from a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 66.
Ura announced a management change in June 2019 that would take effect on January 1. Segovia was succeeded as senior partner by De Carlos, and Salvador Sánchez-Terán was appointed managing partner.
Unlike the majority of other sizable European law firms, Rödl & Partner does not fit the same profile. With its headquarters in Germany, it is a sizable, multinational operation with a focus on Europe in particular.
Despite employing less than half of Rödl’s total workforce, the company’s legal division generates slightly more than half the combined global revenue of the legal, tax, and audit operations. Out of 4,500 employees worldwide, just under 900 work in the legal division, but naturally Rödl & Partner benefits from the economies of scale that come from being a part of such a large organization.
However, Bernd Rödl established Rödl & Partner as a law firm in Nuremberg in 1977. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, it was the first West German company to open in East Germany, and it soon started to grow further east. They first take on Russia before moving on to Asia.
Similar to Fidal, Rödl & Partner engages in a variety of tax-related activities and continues to be a significant source of revenue for the company’s legal division. Laws pertaining to corporations and real estate are also crucial to businesses.
Although Rödl & Partner currently has 108 offices around the world, including 24 in Germany, not all of these areas offer legal services. However, the company’s strategy and core business depend on its multidisciplinary offerings. It is not a part of the network of law firms.
Christian Rödl, the son of Bernd Rödl, is the current chairman of Rödl & Partner, which has six managing partners. Despite the company’s global presence, the remaining five board members are all German-based tax consultants and attorneys.
Since the company was founded in 1949, Gleiss Lutz and Hengeler Mueller have consistently ranked among the top independent law firms in Germany.
Few attorneys at the time had chosen to specialize in competition law, so the firm was founded to address that need. As a result, in 1962, Gleiss Lutz became the first German law firm to establish itself in Brussels. However, it began to internationalize in the 1980s and gradually expanded throughout the 1970s, opening offices in places like Prague and Shanghai as well as gradually becoming a full-service player.
Early in the new millennium, Gleiss Lutz worked with the venerable Herbert Smith and the Benelux firm Stibbe to create a close-knit best friends network. This process then took a more significant turn. Companies will come together to implement third-party documentation and joint offices over the coming ten years. There have been long-running rumors of merger talks between the three firms since Gleiss Lutz closed its Shanghai office.
However, the union was disbanded in 2011 after Glace Lutz and Stibbe abstained on the vote to combine with Herbert Smith. Later, Glace Lutz joined forces once more with Gide Laurette Nouel, Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, and Chiomenti Studio Legal to form a new partnership. Despite being described as “non-exclusive,” the alliance still suggests substantial cooperation, office sharing, and joint projects between the quartets.
With locations in six cities, Gleiss Lutz is currently one of the biggest law firms in Germany. The alliance maintains country offices to provide access to important European markets and conduct business in other jurisdictions, such as China, even though it currently has no physical presence outside of Brussels.
The business is generally conservative. Like its rival Hengeller, it has an impeccable partnership and undergone a pure 12-step program. Although Gleiss Lutz’s corporate division currently has the largest team, nearly 70 years after the company’s founding, it has managed to keep a strong, competitive division.
In the year 2000, Gleiss Lutz changed its organizational setup to include a managing partner and a board of seven members. Martin Diller, an employment partner, was chosen as Gleiss Lutz’s first managing partner in 2000. He held that position until January 2008, when Rainer Loges, an organization partner and former head of Prague, took over. Loges played a crucial role in the creation of the new European Union by leading and ending the alliance between Herbert Smith and Glace Lutz.
In 2016, two managing partners took over for Loges, who had retired. Alexander Schwartz, a corporate partner, and Michael Arnold, a corporate and litigation partner, both preferred common tickets because they wanted to keep getting paid.
Wolfgang Bosch was selected to take over as the new president of Glace Lutz at the same time that Schwartz and Arnold were elected.
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