Comment: The attention bestowed on JD after its premises were searched in connection with the diesel scandal almost overshadowed the fact that the firm secured a decent share of the booming M&A market. Having consistently built up the corporate practice in recent years, the firm has now advised clients from the US practice, e.g. Materion, regular German clients like Mahle, or the hotel corporate Pandox. The German team has also become a real player in public takeovers, with renowned M&A specialist and managing partner Ansgar Rempp and Clifford lateral from two years ago Johannes Perlitt. Before Perlitt arrived, the corporate practice was geared far more towards M&A: an instruction like advice to market research company GfK on KKR taking a stake would previously have come as much more of a surprise to many in the market.
The IT practice is also frequently incorporated in transactions. But even more important for JD’s future development is the solid position now achieved in the field of European data protection. The firm advises notable clients, incl. from the US, with teams in Munich and Brussels.
JD is thus expanding its advisory spectrum, piece by piece. Moreover, it is adding an additional building block to gain a footing in governance and compliance advice, which are increasingly important in the market, beyond the VW instruction. Litigation partner Dr. Johannes Willheim, who came on board two years ago, not only built on his arbitration practice – which is best known for work for Gazprom – but advised on a promising major compliance project. In this context it should be possible to intensify synergies with the bolstered antitrust practice (Dr. Jürgen Beninca came from Morgan Lewis).
But there was some staff unrest in the Frankfurt office. A tax partner went to Ashurst and real estate specialist Dr. Lutz Hülsdunk founded his own firm. These were setbacks to efforts to widen the scope of advice in order to handle major projects more effectively.
The market-leading patents practice in Frankfurt and Munich is still a mainstay. The superbly positioned patent attorneys and lawyers impressed the market again by coordinating international disputes over biotech and pharma patents.
Strengths: ?Patents.
See also: ?Düsseldorf, ?Frankfurt, ?Munich.
Lawyers in Germany: 85
International network: Integrated international firm with enormous global reach. In Europe, laterals have bolstered the strong offices in London and Paris in preparation for the upcoming changes in international patent work. Several German lawyers work at the internationally structured Brussels office.
Developments: In recent years, management has focused largely on developing the corporate practice, which advanced the firm in professional terms and improved the international integration of the German offices. But when it came to compliance, JD displayed a level of restraint unusual for a US firm. The experience from the VW instruction, well-versed partners like Johannes Perlitt and Dr. Johannes Willheim, and the broader data protection expertise are promising signs that also have the support of international management. Such instructions call for a coordinated approach and a logical interlinking of various competencies. But this is a form of market development that has rarely been seen at JD, with its traditionally individualistic approach, reflected in what is still comparatively low leverage.
In other firms, compliance work has been a catalyst for closer cooperation. If the firm seizes on this opportunity, it should benefit as a whole. The searches of the firm premises should not be an obstacle in any case: given the clearly defined task that JD had in the VW affair, the market sees it more as the victim than the cause of the public prosecution department’s unusual move. VW, Jones Day and the partners concerned have already taken the case to the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).
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