This Special Report covers 76 practice areas.

This will search all specialists in Germany.

Germany In Brief

Germany’s economy has continued to grow at an impressive rate, outstripping all of its European neighbours with GDP growth of 0.5 per cent from January to July 2018. It remains the fourth-largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and accounts for 28 per cent of the Eurozone’s economy as a whole. The German economy’s specialisation in the export of capital goods has benefitted from a global upswing in demand in this area, and the ease of access to credit. There has also been a boom in the German labour market that has seen unemployment at record lows, which has positive consequences for domestic consumption. As such, the German economy appears to have been largely unaffected by Brexit uncertainty and the potentially destabilising effects of the “tariff wars”, with the OECD projecting that growth will continue into 2019. The strong performance of Germany’s economy has translated into a very active legal market on several fronts.

The M&A boom continues

Given the strong performance of Germany’s economy and historically low interest rates over the last three years, there has been a continued boom in M&A activity in the domestic market, with practitioners reporting a higher volume of deals valued between €500 million and €1 billion in the last year. It is a seller’s market, with a high level of capital saturation, report practitioners, and with transactions taking place at highly accelerated rates and featuring an influx of international investors. When breaking down the M&A activity by sector, over the past two years, the cash-rich energy sector has superseded the automotive sector, in part due to the entry of private equity and venture capitalists attracted by the second generation of energy technology such as smart grids and wind farms. M&A activity is also being driven by blue-chip companies chasing innovation by absorbing promising start-ups and establishing technology incubators of their own. Indeed, seemingly the only limit to M&A activity in Germany at present is the lack of targets for investors to direct their capital towards.  

The lively state of the M&A market has produced an intensely competitive domestic legal market in Germany in recent years. Sources told us that local German firms are struggling to compete against global firms for M&A work due to their smaller international footprint. Indeed, the highest-value M&A work is still divided between five or six international firms who can offer the expertise in English and American law that such a clientele needs. Consequently, the legal market has also seen a “shopping spree of lateral hires” as firms seek to retain a competitive edge. Respondents also noted that clients have become stricter in their attitude toward fees, which has opened another dimension in which firms must now compete for M&A work. Increased competition regulation from the EU and the domestic Federal Cartel Office has also affected activity in the M&A market this year, with large companies forced to sell assets and divisions in order to avoid falling foul of antitrust regulation.


In a regulated M&A market, as the volume of M&A work increases, so too does that of competition cases. Sources reported this year that cartel and private damages work is “going crazy” in Europe, with cases valued at over €200 million now a regular occurrence. This is not all down to the gold rush of M&A work in recent times, however. Practitioners also point to a more gradual process of cultural change over the past 10 years surrounding private damages and cartel work as part of the reason for the increase in competition work. Simply put, private damages cases “did not exist 10 years ago”, but now this area of the legal market is “very, very hot”. Practitioners put this down to a reduced stigma surrounding the pursuit of damages claims in the business world in Germany, and legislation that has made such claims easier to pursue.

The rise of competition work in Germany has also been driven by the increasingly aggressive stance of EU and domestic competition authorities in recent years. This has manifested in several ways, from an increase in vertical price maintenance cases that were “unheard of” 10 years ago, to well-publicised investigations of large companies such as Google. The exponential expansion of digital business in recent years has also brought a new angle to competition work in the German market, and often presents new complexities for practitioners to navigate. The digital revolution and the attractiveness of such businesses has not only increased the number of potential buyers but also diversified their geographical location, further emphasising the need for firms with international expertise.  

Real estate

The German real estate market has been another beneficiary of the strong economy and the M&A boom, with “relatively stable” prices and levels of activity for the last year, according to commentators. This comes despite uncertainty over Brexit, which was initially seen as a struggle between London and Frankfurt for predominance as the location for headquarters of top financial institutions. However, practitioners now report that it is not such a simple dichotomy, with companies moving to Amsterdam and Liechtenstein as well. Sources told us that both Frankfurt and London are still viable options, and although there has been an influx of businesses into Frankfurt seeking to rent office space, London appears to remain the financial centre par excellence in Europe. The real estate market has not escaped the ravages of digitalisation, with a number of physical retail and shopping centres folding due to inroads made by online retailers. However, the rise of digital retailers has generated demand for distribution centres for their supply chains in Germany, which is stepping in to fill the void left in the market by traditional physical retailers.

The road ahead

Reports of Germany’s current economic golden age and the highly active legal market are frequent and largely optimistic. However, some specialists couch their assessments in caution. With the specific terms of Brexit still to be ratified, an escalation of tariff wars between the US and the EU, and the high levels of debt in the European financial markets, some predict that Germany’s 10-year halcyon period has an end in sight. A downturn in Germany’s and Europe’s economy as a whole is expected in the near future by practitioners across many practice areas. However, if and when it occurs remains to be seen.

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Analysis: Germany

Germany: Arbitration 2019

In this chapter we highlight 58 pre-eminent lawyers in the arbitration field, known for their work as counsel or arbitrators in complex, often international cases.

Germany: Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2019

In this chapter we highlight 11 expert witnesses recognised for their excellent work providing expert testimony in arbitration proceedings.

Germany: Asset Recovery 2019

In this chapter we recognise six standout individuals for their impressive work assisting clients with disclosure, freezing and seizure orders and recovery claims.

Germany: Aviation 2019

In this chapter we feature the top 11 lawyers in German aviation market. Practitioners have been highlighted for their outstanding work in a broad spectrum of aviation liability, regulation, compliance and financing matters.

Germany: Banking 2019

In this chapter we highlight 32 of the foremost lawyers in the German banking market for their expertise in financing, transactional and regulatory work.

Germany: Business Crime Defence 2019

In this chapter we recognise 48 individuals for their impressive work representing both corporates and individuals in high-profile criminal proceedings and investigations. 

Germany: Capital Markets 2019

In this chapter we identify 37 practitioners in Germany’s capital markets space who stand out for their excellent work on a range of matters, including IPOs, syndicated financing and acquisitions.

Germany: Competition 2019

In this chapter we feature 76 lawyers who stand out for their excellent work handling cartel investigations, merger control matters and abuse of dominance issues.

Germany: Competition Economists 2019

This chapter identifies the leading 22 competition economists in the German market. They have been selected for their outstanding work in a range of antitrust matters including M&A transactions, vertical restraint cases and regulatory compliance.

Germany: Construction 2019

In this chapter we recognise 21 outstanding lawyers who advise on transactional, regulatory and dispute matters within the construction industry.

Germany: Corporate Governance 2019

In this chapter we feature 34 lawyers who are recognised for their outstanding work advising boardroom clients, shareholders and management teams on a range of transactional, governance and litigation matters.

Germany: Corporate Immigration 2019

In this chapter we feature five leading lawyers who stand out for their impressive work assisting corporations with the immigration and naturalisation of skilled workers. 

Germany: Corporate Tax - Experts 2019

We highlight six superb practitioners who stand out for their advice, litigation support and abilities as testifying witnesses in the most sophisticated matters in the tax arena.

Germany: Corporate Tax 2019

This year’s research identifies 42 practitioners, recognised for their expertise in both domestic and international corporate tax matters.

Germany: Data 2019

In this chapter, we feature 118 leading data lawyers. The individuals listed here have come highly recommended for their expertise spanning data privacy, protection and security matters, and for their vast experience in the TMT and IT sectors.

Germany: Energy 2019

In this chapter we recognise 32 practitioners for their exceptional work handling a range of matters across the energy sector, including transactional, regulatory and disputes. 

Germany: Environment 2019

In this chapter we recognise 26 environmental lawyers in the German market who are selected for their excellence in regulatory, litigation and transactional matters.

Germany: Franchise 2019

In this chapter we highlight 15 franchise practitioners who are selected for their leading expertise in a broad range of franchise matters for both international and domestic clients. 

Germany: Government Contracts 2019

Here we list 35 practitioners highlighted by peers for their outstanding work in procurement, bidding and tender matters.

Germany: Insurance & Reinsurance 2019

In this chapter we highlight 28 standout individuals for their excellent work representing insurance underwriters, reinsurers, intermediaries and corporate insurers in contentious, contractual, regulatory and transactional matters.

Germany: Investigations 2019

In this chapter we recognise 20 standout individuals for their impressive work managing cross-border investigations into individuals and companies across a range of industry sectors.

Germany: Investment Management 2019

In this chapter we highlight 28 practitioners for their impressive work in advising clients on regulatory, transactional and taxation matters.

Germany: Labour & Employment 2019

In this chapter we highlight 63 impressive lawyers who are recognised as leading names in the field of labour and employment law in Germany. Their expertise spans a range of matters including collective bargaining agreements, corporate restructurings, pension plans and discrimination proceedings.

Germany: Life Sciences 2019

This chapter highlights 63 standout life sciences practitioners who impress with their experience and ability in transactions, regulatory matters and disputes.

Germany: Litigation 2019

In this chapter we highlight 38 litigators who stand out for their excellent work representing clients in national and international commercial and civil litigation proceedings.

Germany: M&A 2019

In this chapter we highlight 66 eminent M&A lawyers for their vast experience advising German and international clients on public and private M&A matters.

Germany: Mediation 2019

In this chapter we recognise eight mediation practitioners who stand out for their excellent work handling a range of commercial disputes.

Germany: Patent Agents 2019

This year we identify 35 patent agents for their exceptional work in drafting, portfolio management and opposition filing.

Germany: Patents 2019

In this chapter we recognise 65 lawyers who stand out for their exceptional work in the field of patents. 

Germany: Private Client 2019

This chapter highlights 14 excellent practitioners who focus on providing individuals, families and companies with top-tier advice on a range of matters including succession and tax planning.

Germany: Product Liability Defence 2019

In this chapter we recognise 12 outstanding lawyers who are highly recommended for their expertise advising clients on complex product liability defence matters.

Germany: Project Finance 2019

In this chapter we recognise 10 leading lawyers who stand out for their impressive work handling project financings across various sectors, from oil and gas to infrastructure.

Germany: Real Estate 2019

In this chapter we present the top 48 real estate practitioners in the German market. They have been selected based on their excellence in a wide range of transactions, project developments, portfolio management and real estate financing matters. 

Germany: Restructuring & Insolvency 2019

In this chapter we recognise 32 impressive lawyers who stand out for their excellent work advising on a range of matters including rescue, reconstruction and insolvency procedures, financial restructurings, leveraged buyouts and liquidations. 

Germany: Shipping 2019

Here we recognise 29 leading shipping lawyers who stand out for their excellent work handling sector-related contractual and financial matters, as well as disputes and casualty cases. 

Germany: Sports & Entertainment 2019

In this chapter, we list 16 impressive lawyers who are identified for their excellence handling regulatory, transactional and advisory matters for clients across the sports and entertainment sectors.  

Germany: Trade & Customs 2019

Our research into the German trade and customs space sees 12 individuals listed for their work assisting domestic and international clients on trade, export controls and customs issues.

Germany: Trademarks 2019

In this chapter we highlight 70 individuals for their excellent work handling a range of trademark-related matters, including prosecution proceedings, copyright, competition and related litigation.

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Firm Profiles: Germany

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.



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