Jones Day prepares for next phase of growth in Germany, translation from German Börsen-Zeitung
This article was originally printed in German in "Börsen-Zeitung", August 23, 2014, page 9. Copying and distribution of this article is prohibited without the permission of "Börsen-Zeitung."
The US law firm Jones Day is again pulling out all the stops in Germany. After a one-year pause in growth in order to manage its integration, once again all the signs are pointing to expansion. "Now we are proceeding," confirmed Ansgar Rempp, who has been leading the firm here in Germany as Partner in Charge since the beginning of 2013. From a global perspective, Germany is one of the most important strategic legal market for the firm outside of the US, emphasizes the transactional attorney. The expansion, which is to take place in all practice areas of the full service law firm, Jones Day intends to continue to proceed opportunistically. A great deal of value is placed on individual personalities having a good fit with the existing partnership culture. There is no lack of interest. The expansion is driven on the partner level. "Expansion has to begin on the level of the partners and then continue with younger colleagues," says Rempp who has been on board for more than 20 years. Of 106 professionals in Germany, 44 are partners. There are no distinctions between classes of partnership; all are equity partners with full personal liability.
The firm, which opened in Germany in 1991, has increased the number of lawyers in the three offices in Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf within the last two years by more than 50% from 65 to more than 100 attorneys. The last gap was closed at the beginning of 2014 when the renowned corporate law specialist Johannes Perlitt from Clifford Chance joined the firm. Rempp wants to build up the area of energy which will offer expertise for transactions in this field as well as in the regulatory context. Jones Day is currently not present in this field in Germany, which Rempp characterizes as a significant deficit.
"We are thinking and investing on a very long-term basis," emphasizes Rempp. Globally, efforts are underway whose results "I will not get to see in the 13 years until I retire." For example, the firm is today preparing intensively for the expected "tsunami" in outbound investments from China." The attorney is convinced that over the long-term the view in China will also prevail that qualitatively high-value legal advice is extremely important, especially in the context of foreign investments, and should accordingly be well-compensated. Jones Day was one of the pioneers in Shanghai and has four offices with 116 attorneys in China.
Jones Day ascribes a special firm culture to itself. "We place a significant amount of emphasis on not having our lawyers compete with one another and having positive and fair interactions with one another as well as our staff," says Rempp. Even during the financial crisis, there were no layoffs worldwide.
In terms of compensation, Jones Day follows its own path. In the "blind compensation" system, every partner is evaluated by two members of the management team. The evaluation is purely "merit-based" and does not include any lock-step or "eat what you kill" components. This model is intended to avoid a situation where attorneys monopolize work and do not involve colleagues who are better suited to address the issues at hand. "This culture puts certain people off and attracts others," says Rempp, who is proud of the high number of female partners in management positions in the firm worldwide and in Germany – "without a women’s quota."
Drivers of the business are transactions, patent law and patent disputes, antitrust law as well as banking/finance – the latter fueled by regulatory changes. A long-standing client of the firm is the software company SAP, which Jones Day advised in several acquisitions in recent years. The firm assisted the Federal Agency for Financial Market Stabilization (FMSA) in 2013 in the placement of Commerzbank shares from Soffin’s portfolio. Antitrust experts advised Bayer during its takeover of the consumer healthcare business of Merck & Co.