French law firms

French law firms

Most French law firms, whether large or small, organize their work by practice area (domaine d’activité). In recent years the profession has seen a shift in preference towards small, specialized firms (les cabinets niches) despite numerous multinational partnerships. Indeed, there is an average of 2,1 lawyer per law firm in France.

Like most French firms, Cabinet d’Avocats du Manoir de Juaye et Associés organises its work by practice area. Our firm is comprised of young, dynamic and talented specialists who have considerable experience in their individual fields of practice.

For more information about how the French legal system works, simply click on the links below.

Organisation of Du Manoir de Juaye
Why are Legal Matters of Such Great Importance to Business?
The Role of the French Lawyer in Business

Introduction: law firms in France

The organization of French law firms depends upon the size and type of law firm. ‘Les Big Five’ firms, such as Landwell and Linklaters, are often organized by practice area but law firms of a smaller size tend to follow the same principal.

Following the British and American model, the larger law firms are often organized in departments or by practice area, meaning lawyers are highly specialized in particular areas or certain technologies. Such law firms may have regional and international offices and may indeed also have certain sub-departments such as tax law, IP, employment law or litigation. Many French law firms are now focusing on one particular area of law, known as a practice area or ‘domaine d’activité’, yet there are some who choose to specialize yet even further and may only offer advice on a narrow range of topics. Law firms that are organized in terms of case files are somewhat rare. In 2000, for example, 60 % of French law firms were organized by department as opposed to 50% in 1999. Many French law firms, whether the ‘big five’ or a ‘small fish’, now have international links which may or may not be formalized in the form of a partnership.

Despite ongoing international and national mergers and partnerships, the average number of lawyers in a French law firm in 2000 was nevertheless 2.73, with the breakdown being the following:

breakdown of french lawyers organisations

How does this organisation affect the client

When dealing with larger law firms some clients feel that the specific nature of their needs is neglected, giving them the impression that they are nothing more than a case file. On the other hand, when working with smaller firms, the client benefits from a more attuned and personalized service. Aside from the advantage of individualized service, small firms also offer clients value for money, credibility, and an in-depth knowledge of the client’s business activity.

The role of the law firm is constantly changing on both a national and international scale. Despite the dominance of the mega-law firms, there is a marked trend towards the small law firm, ‘le cabinet niche’. The ‘niche’ firm, whose teams are dynamic and motivated, offer a certain dedication and energy not seen on a larger scale. Although today’s client is often looking for a well-known name and for a guaranteed high quality service, they are also looking to the specialist for a personalized service and attention to detail combined with high quality service. The demand for premium customer service is growing in importance despite numerous multi-national partnerships. Unlike many French law firms, we have a strategy and a philosophy, which we develop and hone as a team in weekly meetings, working together toward a clear set of goals in order to provide our clients with excellent service.
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Organisation of du Manoir de Juaye

The Cabinet d’Avocats du Manoir de Juaye specialises in business law, with the belief that legal strategy is essential to business development. It divides its work by practice area; Intellectual Property and New Technologies, Commercial law, Corporate law, Tax law and litigation involving nuclear and petrol industries.

Du Manoir de Juaye aims to reunite associates who are specialists in their fields and to encourage the circulation of information between them so as to assure a rapid and reliable service at all times. Founded and based in Paris, le Cabinet d’Avocats du Manoir de Juaye boasts a vast range of clients, capturing both small and large businesses with a tailored service adapted to the needs and schedules of the client. The associates offer advice on the setting up of companies in France as well as the legalities involved in their operation and taxation.

How does this organisation benefit our clients?

The role of the lawyer and the law firm is constantly changing on both a national and international scale. Despite the dominance of the mega-law firms or ‘les Bigs’, there is a real shift toward the small law firm, ‘le cabinet niche’; with its young and dynamic structure offering a certain dedication and energy of application not seen on the larger scale. Many business law firms in France are now specialising in specific areas of business law, owing primarily to competition from British firms. The client is often looking for a brand, for reassurance that they will receive a high quality service, however, they are also looking for a specialist, an attention to detail and a personalised service. It is indeed the later that is growing in importance despite numerous multi-national partnerships. Unlike many French law firms, we have a strategy and a philosophy, which we develop as a team working toward a clear set of goals.

Business law is now a market in itself and following the creation of the common market and the subsequent arrival of British law firms in Paris, the French profession has been somewhat saturated. Currently however, French law firms are on the rise and are in increased demand, with the number of partnerships increasing and representing 16% of the market.

It is important to remember that French law and Anglo-Saxon law are quite distinct from one another, each being based on two very different systems (Anglo-Saxon Law and Latin Law). Therefore, to set up or run a profitable business in France, you will need the help and advice of a specialist in French business law.
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Why are Legal Matters of Such Great Importance to Business?

Given the dominance of European and global markets, it is hardly surprising that legal issues have come to the forefront of economic activity. For the entrepreneur, his or her law firm is a guide through this increasingly complicated and multi-cultural labyrinth; the choice of such a firm is proving to be increasingly integral to the productivity of businesses.

Today, both small and large businesses are habitually faced with new rules, laws and most importantly, deals. The right choice of law firm is fundamental to the prosperity of the business, as it is the law firm that will advise, guide or defend the business should the need arise. Entrepreneurs that recognise this fact make greater savings and thus show greater profits.

Legal dealings are fundamental to the organisation of economic, financial and cultural relations. Internationalisation, globalisation, multiplication of legislation and interaction of different national and international laws all call for the advice of a specialist in business law, a specialist who can adapt to economic cycles as well as the various needs of their client. Lawyers are at the heart of these shifts in the global economy and indeed competition is fierce within the legal market itself. Law firms now realise that they themselves are dealing with a consumer market and that they must adapt to the structures of their clients business.
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The Role of the French Lawyer in Business

In 1990, the french profession underwent a significant change; the fusion of the roles of the classical lawyer and the judicial advisor under a single title: the “avocat”. This was a means of fending off competition from the increasing number of Anglo-saxon law firms both inside and outside France. Nevertheless, the words ‘lawyer to begin with’ or ‘counsel originally’ are still in abundance in everyday law-speak and it will take at least one further generation of lawyers before the change is complete. The French lawyer’s role is primarily to counsel, defend and draft documents on behalf of his or her client.

The role of counsel is to help the client understand the qualification of his or her legal situation, explain the rules governing such a situation and indicate the most probable outcome given the circumstances; rather like a solicitor in the Anglo-Saxon system. The role of assistance comes into play before a judge, where the avocat will defend his or her client’s interests. Such assistance is not mandatory, but given the complexity of modern law it rare to see an individual defend themselves.

It is therefore necessary to seek the advice of a specialist in business law from the outset of any operation, as waiting for problems to arise is often a risk to the venture. Such a specialist will be able to arrange patents and advise, defend or draft documents concerning intellectual and/or industrial property rights and infringements of such rights for example. In addition, he or she will be able to advise on commercial law, employment law (including questions concerning social security), fiscal law and an increasing number of French lawyers advise and/or defend cases involving new technologies.

Before 1990, non-native lawyers wishing to become a member of the French bar had to wait 5 years. Now, French lawyers face a great deal of competition as this prerequisite has been abolished, although, in order to specialise in a particular practice area one must nevertheless obtain a certificate from the CNB (Conseil National des barreaux) which requires 4 years of practice in a certain field.

N.B An ‘expert-comptable’ can only give legal advice if he or she is addressing a business for which he or she will be working on a permanent basis and if the advice is directly linked to the work he or she is currently carrying out for that business.
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