The Backlash: Clementi and the German Bar

The German Bar Association is threatening any UK law firm that has an office in Germany with severe sanctions if they take advantage of the Clementi proposals to take in external investment. Here's a link to an article in The Lawyer on this.

Does this mean the death of the unified law firm? Will they start to imitate Baker & McKenzie and adopt the Swiss Verein as their new corporate form? The accounting firms have found this structure useful.

We know the US legal profession already has its preventative measures in place. Will other countries follow the German lead? Is the backlash starting?


Jane Lambert said…
There are alternatives to the Swiss Verein for a multi-jurisdiction, multidisciplinary practice:
- the French Groupement d'intérêt économique;
- the Delaware membership association;
even a purely contractual relationship under English law.

As I have said in a response to your comment on my blog, I doubt very much that we shall see banks or retailers entering the legal services market any time soon for economic reasons. As for banks and other financial institutions, they are all in deep trouble. One of the reasons they got into trouble is that they abandoned their core businesses. If they ever get out of trouble (and that's still a big "if" despite rescue packages on both sides of the Atlantic) they will be very reluctant to try anything else new. The same is true of retailers.

If there is to be change - and I agree with you that there probably will be - indeed I hope that there will be change - it will be technology driven. People who need legal services will be able to get them cheaply from say a Web 2.0 application. It will take time (probably decades) for the market to become aware of new technology and begin to use it. But I am sure they will eventually.

With best wishes