Frankfurt

Home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges and many major financial institutions, Frankfurt remains the most important center for banking and finance, especially capital-markets work. It is thus generally seen as a market for large firms working in international finance and with little room for small and midsized firms. The traditional Mittelstand law firm is hard to find in Frankfurt nowadays as many of them have been incorporated into nationwide mergers. However, as one of the few regions that admit lawyer-notaries, Frankfurt allows many smaller firms to live off property notarization as well as instructions from the larger firms.

Significant developments:

- Financial market regulation is a central issue in Frankfurt, esp. the ECB’s new Single Supervisory Mechanism, leading many firms to bundle their international regulatory competence here.

- Fintech is rapidly becoming a big trend in the financial sector.

- Clifford Chance’s Frankfurt office is reduced to 30 lawyers as part of a restructuring process, though losing respected corporate and private equity head Oliver Felsenstein and finance head Alexandra Hagelüken to Latham & Watkins was not part of the plan.

- Jones Day’s corporate team makes a breakthrough with its advice on the planned takeover of K+S by Potash.

- US firm Reed Smith chooses Frankfurt as the location for its second office in Germany.