Leading Firms 2019

In the latest edition of WWL: Germany, we feature over 300 law firms, ranging from international powerhouses to full-service domestic outfits and boutique offerings. However, over a quarter of the total listings this year come from seven standout firms, which we profile below.

Total number of listings: 34

Global law firm Clifford Chance first entered the German market 70 years ago, building its presence to 300 lawyers and 66 partners today, based in offices in Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. The firm performs well in this edition, showcasing its extensive expertise with 34 listings across 19 practice areas.

The firm is highly active in the real estate market and sees six practitioners recognised in our corresponding chapter. The team is recognised for its excellence advising clients on the whole gamut of sector-related matters including development, financing, investment and litigation.

Banking is another area in which the firm performs well, achieving three nominations this year. The team is recognised for its strong expertise when it comes to regulation, lending and complex financings. Its first-rate offering across the corporate finance arena extends to capital markets, restructuring and insolvency, project finance and corporate tax.

Standout individuals at the firm include Ulrich Reese and Peter Dieners who are recognised as two of the most prominent life sciences lawyers in the country. Bettina Steinhauer is one of the foremost banking specialists in the market while Sonya Pauls is highlighted for her expertise in the investment management space. Christian Keilich wins praise for his top-tier real estate practice and Heiner Hugger gains recognition for his impressive investigations and asset recovery work.


Total number of listings: 41

Full-service firm CMS Hasche Sigle is one of Germany’s largest firms, with over 600 lawyers. It also boasts a strong global footprint with practitioners across 40 countries, making it a powerful player in the German market. The strength and depth of legal expertise at the firm is evident from our research this year, with the firm achieving a total of 41 listings across 20 different practice areas.

The data practice once again stands out in our research, with six lawyers recognised this year. The team is well equipped to advise both domestic and international clients on a range of matters including data protection and security, internet of things and telecommunications.

The arbitration practice at the firm also distinguishes itself this year. Four impressive individuals are highly recommended for their exceptional work in national and international arbitration proceedings. Their expertise spans a range of institutional rules including ICC, LCIA, ICSID and UNCITRAL. Torsten Lörcher and Klaus Michael Sachs sit among the most highly ranked arbitration practitioners in the market.

Other key figures at the firm include Jan Wölper, a world-class shipping law specialist, and Björn Gaul and Gerlind Wisskirchen who are highlighted for their outstanding labour and employment practices.


Total number of listings: 70

International powerhouse Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer maintains a dominant position in the German market, and boasts a strong footprint across the country with offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. Its expertise spans a wide range of practice areas and sectors, illustrated in our research this year as it achieves an unsurpassed 72 nominations across 25 practice areas.

M&A and governance is an area in which the firm particularly excels. It receives 11 listings this year across our corresponding chapters. Its members are well equipped to advise clients on a wide range of matters including both public and private M&A, restructurings, joint ventures and related disputes. The firm showcases the breadth of its corporate finance expertise with further nominations across our corporate tax, capital markets and banking chapters.

Freshfields also stands out in the German competition market where it boasts the highest number of nominations in our research this year. Members are recognised for their excellent work handling merger reviews, cartel investigations, state aid and compliance matters, among others.  

Key individuals at the firm include Johannes Conradi, a Global Elite Thought Leader in the real estate sector. Christoph Seibt is a top name in the M&A and governance space while Mark Strauch is recognised for his first-class capital market practice. Sources highlight Wolf Friedrich Spieth as a leading environmental lawyer and praise Frank-Erich Hufnagel for his top-tier work in the patents field.


Total number of listings: 52

Top-tier firm Gleiss Lutz boasts a prominent position in the German market, and continues to be recognised as one of the country’s leading full-service law firms. It illustrates the strength of its offering in our research this year, achieving 52 nominations across 20 practice areas, including lawyers from across five of its German offices.

The firm proves itself be a dominant player in competition law and sees seven lawyers listed in our corresponding chapter. The team stands out for its excellence across a wide array of antitrust-related matters including merger control, compliance, cartel investigations, follow-on damages actions and vertical agreements.

The firm is also a major presence in the German labour and employment market, seeing seven practitioners highlighted for their leading work handling corporate reorganisations, works councils negotiations, pension schemes, and labour and employment-related litigation.

Corporate finance is another area in which the firm excels, achieving several nominations this year across a range of related areas including M&A, capital markets, corporate governance, corporate tax and restructuring and insolvency. The firm’s dispute resolution capabilities are also recognised with individuals highlighted for their excellent work in both litigation and arbitration proceedings.  

Key names at the firm include Ingo Brinker, a Global Elite Thought Leader in the competition arena, and Andreas Spahlinger, who stands out as one of the foremost restructuring and insolvency lawyers in the country. Thomas Winzer and Christian Arnold are key figures in the labour and employment market, while Michael Arnold is widely recognised for his first-class corporate governance practice. Stephan Wilske wins high praise for his leading arbitration expertise and Stefan Völker impresses with his expert handling of complex trademark matters.


Total number of listings: 56

Full-service law firm Hengeler Mueller is a leading outfit in the German market. It demonstrates the strength of its offering in our research this year, achieving 58 nominations across 17 practice areas. In this edition, we feature lawyers from its offices across the country – from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.

The firm boasts a top-tier M&A team, from which 10 lawyers are recognised in our corresponding chapter this year. The transactional team is well known for its impressive work advising a range of clients on venture capital, private equity and both public and private M&A deals. Its excellence in the corporate finance sphere extends to its capital markets and corporate governance teams which each see seven individuals highlighted our research this year.

The firm also illustrates the breadth of its sector-based offering, with multiple listed practitioners in our real estate, banking, environment, energy and life sciences chapters.

Standout individuals at the firm include Thomas Müller, one of the leading real estate practitioners in the country. Alf-Henrik Bischke, Christoph Stadler and Thorsten Mäger are Global Elite Thought Leaders in the competition space, while Maximilian Schiessl is recognised as a distinguished name in M&A.


Total Number of Listings: 35

Renowned global legal services provider Hogan Lovells performs impressively in this year’s research. The firm showcases its prominent position in the German market achieving 36 listings across 14 different practice areas, including practitioners from its offices across the country – Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.

Its patents practice stands out this year as the foremost offering in Germany, with a total of six practitioners listed for their excellence in the field. The team is well versed in advising clients on the full range of related matters from licensing to patent prosecution. The firm’s IP offering extends to the trademarks space, where three impressive lawyers are listed in our corresponding chapter.

The firm’s sector-related expertise is also illustrated in this edition. The real estate group sees four practitioners listed for their strong expertise when it comes to investments, developments and financing, while the life sciences group also achieves an impressive four listings.

Key figures at the firm include Ina Brock, a top name in the life sciences and product liability defence field. Andreas von Falck is also recognised as one of the foremost life sciences experts in the country and is also highlighted for his prominence in the patents space. Meanwhile Matthias Hirschmann comes highly recommended for his first-rate energy practice.


Total Number of Listings: 65

Pan-European firm Noerr is home to some of Germany’s most respected lawyers and continues to showcase its strong presence in the market in this year’s research. The firm achieves 65 listings across 23 practice areas, illustrating the great breadth of expertise on offer.

The firm is renowned for its leading M&A practice and sees nine individuals listed in our corresponding chapter. The team provides wide-ranging expertise in the space on matters including cross-border mergers, distressed set-ups and corporate financings. The extent of its corporate finance expertise is recognised this year with listings across additional chapters including corporate governance and banking.

The firm also offers outstanding sectoral insight and sees seven practitioners listed in our data chapter for their superb work providing clients with in-depth understanding of issues ranging from data protection to IT outsourcing. It also performs well in our energy chapter, in which – with eight listings – it is the market leader. With an additional three listings in our environment chapter, it is a go-to for clients requiring comprehensive insight into these fields. The lawyers included are commended for their impressive work across matters such as renewables, project financings, climate protection regulation and related litigation.

Standout individuals at the firm include Peter Bräutigam, a Global Elite Thought Leader in the field of data law.  In the M&A space, Tobias Bürgers and Thorsten Reinhard are rated among the top practitioners in the country. Karsten Metzlaff is a highly respected figure in the franchise arena while Uwe Erling gains recognition for his excellence in environmental law.

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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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