Corporate Tax 2015: Analysis

We are pleased to announce the 2015 findings of our corporate tax research in which we identify the leading advisory and controversy practitioners from 376 firms in 61 countries.

Leading this year’s research is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer with 28 lawyers included from its offices in Europe and the US. Following closely behind are Baker & McKenzie, with practitioners recommended in nine of its offices, and Loyens & Loeff, which impresses with its network of experts in Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has a strong showing in the US with its Washington, DC office particularly well represented.

Meanwhile French firm CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre is the standout firm in that jurisdiction.

Our research also singles out several accountancy firms that perform impressively including EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

To top things off we single out the most highly regarded individuals in advisory and controversy corporate tax work.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Michael Schler Cravath Swaine & Moore, New York
Peter Maher A&L Goodbody, Dublin
Jeroen Janssen Loyens & Loeff, Amsterdam
Steve Edge Slaughter and May, London
Sonia Velasco Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira, Barcelona
Alberto Xavier Xavier Duque-Estrada Emery Denardi Advogados, Rio de Janeiro
Jack Bernstein Aird & Berlis, Toronto
Peter Blessing KPMG, New York
Jonathan Peacock QC 11 New Square, London
James Fuller Fenwick & West, Mountain View
Heleno Taveira Tôrres Heleno Torres Advogados, São Paulo
Nikolaj Bjørnholm Plesner Law Firm, Copenhagen
Rogério Fernandes Ferreira Rogério Fernandes Ferreira & Associados - Sociedade de Advogados, Lisbon
Kevin Prosser QC Pump Court Tax Chambers, London
Kenneth Gideon Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Washington DC
Arne Møllin Ottosen Kromann Reumert, Copenhagen
Martin Phelan William Fry, Dublin
Richard Tremblay Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, Toronto
Fred Goldberg Jr Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Washington DC
Liesl Fichardt Clifford Chance, London

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has an impressive 28 lawyers included for their corporate tax expertise. The firm’s London office has the best showing, with six names recommended. Helen Buchanan assists clients with complex tax issues, handling advisory and contentious matters. A qualified mediator, she is a “high-flyer” with a “prestigious practice”. Murray Clayson specialises in international tax and all aspects of financing transactions and corporate structuring, banking and financial markets taxation, tax disputes and transfer pricing. A “frontrunner” in the market, he is recommended for both his advisory and controversy practices. David Taylor focuses on corporate tax advisory, planning and disputes, particularly the tax aspects of corporate finance and private equity work. He also has extensive experience of tax-based asset and structured financing, and clients commend his “careful handling” and “unflappable nature”. Helen Lethaby advises clients on the tax implications of corporate transactions, and is praised for her “poise” and “straightforward and practice advice”. Colin Hargreaves is a “strategic genius” who leads the corporate transactional tax practice of the firm’s tax group in London, advising clients in the real estate sector in particular. Paul Davison works with financial institutions on structured finance deals and leasing work, acting for corporate clients and financial institutions who describe him as a “pleasure to work with”.

The firm also has a strong showing elsewhere in Europe. In Germany Stephan Eilers is a tax structuring “guru”. Based in the firm’s Cologne office, he advises on tax issues related to M&A transactions, IPOs and double taxation and treaty issues, with an emphasis on the UK, US and China. Düsseldorf partner Jochen Lüdicke features in both our advisory and controversy sections and is noted for his “exceptional handling” of complex issues. Amsterdam-based Machiel Lambooij advises on international M&A taxation and tax structuring in the financial and IP area, while Eelco van der Stok is seen as a “leading authority” on structured finance taxation and related disputes. In the firm’s Paris office, the “incredibly talented” Antoine Colonna d’Istria acts for French and foreign multinational groups on complex French and cross-border tax transactions and disputes. Michael Sedlaczek in Vienna “expertly advises clients” on corporate tax planning, group reorganisations and structured finance, with a special focus on the financial institutions sector. The firm’s only US nominee, Robert Scarborough in New York, helps clients to structure and close a wide range of complex financial and corporate transactions in tax-efficient ways. He is a “great tactician” who is praised by peers for his “excellent attention to detail”.

Baker & McKenzie receives 25 recommendations across nine offices. The firm has the strongest showing in the US, with over half of the firm’s lawyers we list based there. Five names are selected from the firm’s Chicago office, including Richard Lipton, who draws praise for his “incisive” tax planning advice for corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. John McLees is a “top-quality” practitioner who focuses his practice on domestic and international acquisitions and reorganisations. Two tax lawyers from the firm’s Palo Alto office are listed, including “sharp-minded” Gary Sprague, who features in both advisory and controversy chapters for his broad practice. “Highly experienced” John Peterson is also included in our tax advisory listings this year. Washington-based Mary Bennett is widely recommended for her advisory and controversies work. She has over 30 years’ experience advising US-based and foreign multinational clients on corporate tax planning. Also in Washington, Carol Dunahoo is a “definite inclusion” in both chapters for her work advising upon tax controversies, compliance, policy and international tax administration. A recent addition to the firm is the “insightful” Jerred Blanchard, who joined the firm’s Houston office from Ernst & Young earlier this year.

The firm also has a strong showing across Latin America, with four names featured from two offices. In Caracas, Ronald Evans and Jorge Jraige Roa are both “highly recommended” for their “market leading” controversy and advisory practices. Lima-based Alberto Araoz Villena is “at the top of his game” advising domestic and international companies on general tax matters, planning and corporate reorganisations. Rolando Ramírez-Gastón Horny rounds out the firm’s Latin American listings with his “exceptionally good” advisory practice. He provides tax consultancy services as well as advising clients on proceedings before the Peruvian National Tax Administration, the Fiscal Court and the Municipal Tax Administration. In Europe, Wouter Paardekooper of the firm’s Amsterdam office is a “top-level tax lawyer” with a specialist advisory practice that focuses on direct taxation. Madrid-based Luis Briones is praised for his “world class” tax advisory and controversies work.

Loyens & Loeff is close behind, boasting 23 nominees in this edition with 10 based in the Netherlands. Jeroen Janssen is “truly skilled and creative” within his tax advisory work. He has an established, international practice and frequently advises clients from Israel and Brazil. “Leading light” Maarten van der Weijden is commended by peers and clients alike for his “insightful” advice. Marc Klerks is a “brilliant” lawyer and the “go-to practitioner” for advice on Dutch corporate tax. Harmen van Dam, in the firm’s Rotterdam office, is a “consistently excellent” advisor and popular among his international client base. In Luxembourg, Peter Adriaansen maintains an “authoritative practice” specialising in Luxembourg and Dutch international consultancy. Christian Chéruy in Brussels holds a reputation for “deep knowledge of the EU taxation system” and heads the firm’s Belgian tax controversy and litigation team.

Outside of Europe the firm has names included from the US, Middle East and Asia. Carola van den Bruinhorst, head of the firm’s tax department in Hong Kong, commands “huge respect” for her work advising international clients on tax planning relating to reorganisations, M&A, structured finance, joint ventures and partnerships. In New York, Veronique Sway has a “flourishing” tax practice regularly dealing with Fortune 500, investment fund, private equity and hedge fund clients.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has 20 lawyers in our lists this year, with all but three coming from the US. The firm’s Washington office receives the bulk of the recognition with seven names highlighted. Kenneth Gideon is one of our highest rated controversy lawyers, and commended for his “pioneering” ideas. He also features in our advisory chapter, for which he is noted as a “careful, dedicated and efficient” tax practitioner. Fred Goldberg receives praise as a “superstar strategist” within his controversies work, and is also one of our highest rated practitioners in this area. He regularly represents clients in IRS administrative and regulatory proceedings. Hal Hicks is “very good in a number of areas” and features in both the advisory and the controversy sections of this publication. His representative clients include Coca-Cola, Schering-Plough and BlackRock. John Williams Jr is also nominated in both chapters. He is widely esteemed practitioner who has sat as a judge on the United States Tax Court and acted as special assistant to the chief counsel of the IRS. In New York, six names from Skadden feature in our list. Stuart Finkelstein is noted as a “very prominent lawyer” with an advisory practice that spans across a wide range of tax matters, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures as well as corporate restructurings. The “fantastic” Kirk Wallace has a broad advisory practice and frequently acts as counsel to underwriters and collateral managers in the structuring, offering and restructuring of a number of bond, loan and debt obligation securitisations.

Two names are selected from outside of the US. In London, Tim Sanders “is always able to find solutions to complex issues” and is held in high regard by his clients. His practice includes a full range of cross-border and domestic UK corporate and banking taxation matters. Philippe Derouin in Paris is recommended for both his advisory and his contentious work, and is regarded as a “huge asset to his firm” for his “in-depth knowledge” of corporate and administrative law.

French firm CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre has an impressive presence in the market. Nineteen of its lawyers, 18 of whom are based at its Neuilly-sur-Seine office, feature in this publication. Edouard Milhac, who is included in the advisory and controversy sections, has a “highly technical appreciation” of the business issues facing his clients. The “thoughtful and measured” Stéphane Gelin is also recommended for his advisory and disputes work. Agnès de l’Estoile-Campi is highly praised for both her advisory and her contentious work, and is “commercial and very responsive”. Michel Collet also has an “established” broad practice and is recommended for his advisory and controversy work. Pierre-Sébastien Thill is known for “very high-profile work” in the advisory and controversy market. In the firm’s Shanghai office, Nicolas Zhu advises corporate clients on all aspects of international taxation and has a specialist focus on the life-sciences sector.

Linklaters garners 18 listings, with 12 names featured from seven European offices. Four practitioners are noted in Germany, with Jens Blumenberg in Frankfurt recommended as a “stand-out individual” in the European tax market. He is listed for both advisory and controversy work. Düsseldorf-based Oliver Rosenberg is an “excellent tax lawyer” with an “impressive client base”. Three London-based lawyers are recommended, among them Dominic Winter who is described as a “solution-focused” practitioner with an excellent reputation for contentious work. Henk Vanhulle in Brussels is “very strong and very well known” with a practice that focuses on tax planning, corporate finance, capital market transactions and corporate M&A work. Two US-based lawyers also feature. Gordon Warnke in New York is head of the firm’s US tax practice and has “great quality and depth”, while David Brockway, in the firm’s Washington office, is a “commendably experienced” individual within the tax advisory field.

Accountancy firms

Ernst & Young is our highest performing accountancy firm with 18 listings in this edition. There are five practitioners featured from the US, all selected from the firm’s Washington office. Glenn Carrington is the national tax director for client services at the firm, and impresses clients with his “great flair” and “invaluable sector experience”. Karen Sowell is noted for her “bespoke solutions” on a broad range of transaction-related tax liabilities and is always “willing to go the extra mile for clients”. Eric Solomon advises clients on a wide range of transactional and tax policy issues, and is a “major player”, with over 30 years of experience in the tax market.

Outside the US, the firm’s Peru office has two nominees that make it onto the following pages. María Eugenia Caller Ferreyros is a “very effective” adviser offering “practical solutions”, while David de la Torre is a “big name” in the market and a “lawyer of choice” for many. In Europe the firm receives recommendations from six offices. In Paris, Claire Acard advises clients on international taxation matters, and is described as “technically excellent” and a “true star” by clients.

Deloitte receives 13 recommendations, including Teresa Dyson in Brisbane who is a “first port of call” for many, thanks to her “high quality service”. Helsinki-based Tomi Pitkanen is the managing partner of the firm in Finland, and has also previously led its financial advisory practice. He has “enviable experience” in domestic and cross-border M&A, restructuring and financing. Gary Thomas, in the firm’s Tokyo office, specialises in international tax planning and disputes. In San Francisco, Victor Penico has over 25 years of experience and is a “master” of tax law in the US.

Peter Blessing in KPMG’s New York office is a “true leader” in tax advisory work, with clients praising his “finely tuned skills” and “no-nonsense approach”. In total the firm receives 12 listings across seven offices, including Miami-based Devon Bodoh, whose “commercial approach” makes him a “top choice” for many. José Ignacio Jiménez Blanco in the firm’s Madrid office impresses with his “detailed advice” and “ability to get to the heart of an issue”.

PricewaterhouseCoopers garners 11 listings from six offices across the Americas and Europe. Douglas Ewens QC in the firm’s Calgary office is a “famed practitioner” with “unbeatable market experience”. Samuli Makkonen specialises in financial services in Helsinki and is noted for his “sensible advice”, while Oslo-based Morten Beck is described as an “astute legal mind”.


Europe is home to many of the top names in our research, with London one of the continent’s leading tax jurisdictions. Clifford Chance performs highly in this year’s research, with 13 listings in total. Liesl Fichardt is head of the contentious tax practice in the firm’s London office, where she specialises in tax litigation, negotiation with revenue authorities and settlement of disputes. With “extensive court and tribunal experience” she is a “first port of call” for many. Also in London, Jonathan Elman and David Harkness are noted for their “top notch” advisory work. Slaughter and May is home to five of our listings, including Steve Edge, one of our most highly regarded advisory specialists. He offers “comprehensive advice” on the tax aspects of private and public M&A, disposals and joint ventures and on business and transaction structuring. He is in the “premier league” of tax advisers. Sara Luder from the firm is also recommended for both her advisory and her controversy practices.

Also in London, we highlight some of the bar’s top barristers, listed for their contentious and advisory roles. Pump Court Tax Chambers’ Kevin Prosser QC is one of our most highly regarded controversy barristers, and the chambers garners seven listings in total. Prosser is head of chambers and has “unrivalled experience” in litigating tax cases, and his “tremendous understanding” means there is “no one better” at the bar. Julian Ghosh QC is another “leading name” at the set, with his “calm demeanour” commended by peers. Jonathan Peacock QC from 11 New Square also receives glowing recommendations for his “unbeatable” advisory work assisting financial institutions, multinationals and high net worth individuals. He “inspires confidence” in clients and is “accessible and easy to work with”.

Elsewhere in Europe, Dublin-based Peter Maher from A&L Goodbody advises clients on every aspect of tax work. He has “in-depth experience” of inbound investment, cross-border financings and US multinational tax planning and business restructurings, with clients praising his “business-oriented approach”. Also in the Irish capital, Martin Phelan’s controversy practice is “at the forefront of domestic contentious tax work”. He is head of William Fry’s tax advisory practice, where he specialises in international tax, and boasts an “enviable client list”. Two lawyers from Copenhagen are highlighted for their “outstanding” tax controversy work. “First-class” Nikolaj Bjørnholm from Plesner Law Firm “adeptly” represents domestic and international companies in large tax disputes. He has appeared before the Danish High Court and Supreme Court, and the Court of Justice of the European Union and is “highly acclaimed” by peers. Arne Møllin Ottosen is the managing partner of Kromann Reumert, and specialises in corporate tax litigation for which he is described as “very effective” and a “true leader” in Copenhagen. Sonia Velasco from Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira’s Barcelona office is recommended for her “quick thinking” advice on tax cases in the tourism and TMT sectors, where she is viewed as a “leading player”. The firm receives an additional eight listings across its Spanish and Portuguese offices, with Andrés Sánchez López in Madrid noted for his “very fine” practice involving foreign investment. Lisbon-based Rogério Fernandes Ferreira from his own firm is a “sensational” tax disputes specialist whose clients laud his “hands-on approach”.

North America

Fenwick & West receives eight listings in total, with “advisory expert” James Fuller one of our top rated names for his “resolute focus” and “international mind-set”. He specialises in advising clients on transfer pricing and is a “firm favourite” with clients. From the same office Ronald Schrotenboer is a domestic and international federal income tax disputes “expert” who is a “great strategist”. Michael Schler at Cravath Swaine & Moore in New York is a “thought leader” in the market, with peers describing him as “one of the all-time greats”. His work on both advisory and contentious matters is “world class” and clients laud his “encyclopedic knowledge”. At the same firm, Andrew Needham focuses on tax advisory work in M&A, spinoffs, private equity and hedge funds, and is a “distinguished player”.

In Canada, Richard Tremblay from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt is one of our top-rated controversy lawyers. He focuses his “terrific” practice on international tax, and particularly transfer pricing matters. He is a “dominant force” in the market, noted for his “impressive record”. The firm receives 12 listings in total, with the “stand-out” Mark Brender and “versatile” Robert Raizenne in Montreal featured in our advisory and controversy sections. Jack Bernstein from Aird & Bird in Toronto chairs the firm’s international tax practice and is praised for his “exceptional abilities”. Peers describe him as being in a “league of his own”.

Rest of the world

Brazil has been identified as an emerging tax market, with two lawyers from the country included in our most highly regarded section. Alberto Xavier from Xavier Duque-Estrada Emery Denardi Advogados in Rio de Janeiro is “one of the leading tax lawyers in Brazil” and one of our highest rated advisory lawyers. He is also recommended for this controversy practice and is a “definite inclusion on any list”. Heleno Taveira Tôrres at his own firm is one of the highest ranking names in our tax controversy research, with his “vast experience” and “stellar reputation” praised by clients. Also in Latin America, Guillermo Orlando Teijeiro from Teijeiro & Ballone in Buenos Aires impresses clients with his “intuitive solutions” and is “very active” in the market.

Elsewhere, the “extremely able” Emil Brincker is the national head of the tax practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr in Johannesburg, where he specialises in corporate finance, corporate reorganisation and exchange control. Tony Frost is the managing director at Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills where he “tailors advice to client needs”. Ryutaro Uchiyama from Tokyo Kyodo Accounting Office is a “leading force in the Asian market” and a “true expert” in the region.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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