MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY

Comment: The deliberate growth of recent years has catapulted McDermott into a league of advisors that not many in the market would have expected a few years ago. Tighter management, which is now embodied by sole managing partner Dr. Norbert Schulte, brings together the firm’s strengths profitably. M&A deals for Signa – a client of the real estate practice – demonstrate the progress, as does the decision to make real estate expert Dr. Jens Ortmanns head of the M&A practice. More firmly structured and larger teams for deals in the other core sectors, healthcare and private equity, and optimized pan-European cooperation dominated the practice’s year. A transaction team from King & Wood gave a boost to the Frankfurt office, where M&A had been understaffed. The arrival also marked a break from the previous strategy, in order to fill gaps in the advisory portfolio consistently. McDermott had rarely brought experienced and renowned partners on board before then, preferring to give younger laterals from large firms the opportunity to establish a practice. The firm did not give up this successful strategy: McDermott set about creating a public law practice on the interface with the successful real estate practice with a lateral from Hogan Lovells. With a young, respected partner from Loschelder, the firm finally entered the patents scene. Despite these, McDermott has not grown since last year, because it noiselessly parted ways with a number of lawyers whose work no longer fit in with the level of advice now reached.
See also: ?Düsseldorf, ?Frankfurt, ?Munich.
Lawyers in Germany: 80
International network: Originally from Chicago, the firm now maintains offices throughout the US. Strong cooperation with the Paris office. In Europe McDermott also has offices in London, Rome and Brussels. Also present in Asia: strategic alliance in Shanghai and office in Seoul.
Developments: While McDermott ramped up capacities at non-equity partner and counsel level, the associate base remains steady. This gave the equity partner team the space it needed for client acquisition and strategically interweaving the practices, incl. internationally. The firm will now need to grow its associate base – esp. as some clients recently criticized this as being understaffed. In this context, the new Cologne office is an attempt to stay open to young talent in Cologne and Bonn. The new option for career beginners to arrange a lower salary for a 35-hour week is a starting point for meeting the needs of today’s generation. It is still too early to tell whether this will lead to the desired success or whether the ideas will fizzle out as mere marketing.
In general, the firm has driven growth before now through a commitment to offering young lawyers a chance to build up practices that are not yet established. This shaped the firm culture. But an experienced and renowned lateral has now joined the Frankfurt office and the firm will attract more lawyers of this caliber with the market position it now enjoys. Striking a balance between quick growth by established laterals and offering sufficient opportunities for young lawyers will be a crucial task for management, as will expanding the associate base.
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