Comment: This full-service firm has proven in recent years that it can integrate laterals successfully and grow strategically with their help. What is most remarkable is the fact that, although not only thanks to the laterals, interdisciplinary cooperation was boosted across the firm in a way not seen for years at BB. This was most impressive in energy law, where the arrival of a team in 2015 lent BB huge momentum: the new additions brought first-class clients like 50Hertz, and BB made it onto the panel of a German energy producer for the first time. The successful integration is largely due to practice head Dr. Maximilian Elspas, under whose leadership the transaction practice also made great strides. Consequently, alongside Dr. Christian von Wistinghausen and Prof. Dr. Hans-Josef Vogel, he is now managing the corporate team, which had already dedicated itself to a stronger sector focus. In dispute resolution too, where the Toll Collect arbitration on the side of the German federal government is keeping a number of lawyers on their toes, disputes specific to the energy and automotive sectors developed into a specialty.
Although initiated comparatively late in the day, this sector focus is still an opportunity for BB to sharpen its profile because, along with many full-service firms, it struggles to distinguish itself from similarly broadly based competitors like Luther or Heuking. This is why, as in energy law, the firm bolstered the healthcare and games practices with laterals in recent years, and these are now fostering interoffice and interdisciplinary work. Even in employment, already a hallmark of the firm, specialties are emerging, e.g. in the healthcare sector.
Just how much more effectively BB is now tapping the potential offered by its international ties is shown by corporate/M&A as well as public law: here, BB is involved in several interdisciplinary projects, mainly for public authorities. As well as a traditional focus on IT procurement, the firm stepped up activity in the defense sector. Closer cooperation between offices is also the recipe for higher end work in antitrust: after a practice restructuring, the firm is now devoting more attention to antitrust damages claims and cartel cases.
Young partners are playing an increasingly pivotal role in the advancement of activity, be it in antitrust, public law or advice to the healthcare sector. The firm showed it is serious about developing young lawyers for the long term by introducing the part-time equity partnership. BB traditionally has a wide salary partnership, but with this move wants to open up the path to the top.
JUVE Law Firm of the Year for: Energy law.
Lawyers in Germany: 247
International network: Offices in Brussels, Beijing, Shanghai, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The firm is establishing a closer network with western European and US firms.
Developments: BB is opting for further growth. After opening an office in Hamburg, the firm brought in several laterals as reinforcements again, among them real estate lawyer Volker Szpak – a founding partner of boutique HauckSchuchardt. With him, the firm can now join the playing field for project development. The corporate practice was also bolstered. Dr. Winfried Richardt, previously at Metro, was the first partner arrival since the 2015 loss of heavyweight Dr. Thomas Sacher to Ashurst. Although inbound work is flourishing – thanks to both strong ties to China and numerous country desks – and the team is profiting from close cooperation with the BB accounting company, advice on corporate and transactions remains the biggest challenge. The firm is still just a spectator in most of the big-ticket deals as it still lacks a standout player to demonstrate the team’s ability to the market. Naming Elspas co-practice head was the first step in the right direction. But a broader development must now come from the energy practice. Only then will BB be able to attract first-rate corporate laterals or position young corporate lawyers more prominently in the market. The part-time arrangement in the equity partnership was an important signal against this backdrop and a long-overdue step for the firm, after it lost a number of well-regarded salary partners the year before. The new flexibility could also make BB more attractive to laterals, for whom it was not an alternative before.
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