A French corporate lawyer mainly deals with international business transactions. In order to be able to give adequate answers to each client, a French corporate lawyer must have a broad knowledge of French business law which includes French corporate law, French commercial law, economic law, merger and acquisitions law, French employment law, French contract law, French tax law, accounting, securities law, intellectual properties, international law and any law that may regulate business transactions.

In selecting French corporate lawyers, multinationals doing deals or operating in France seek to maximize :

  • Expertise
  • Efficiency
  • Quality of work product

But there is more to consider.

1- French corporate lawyers : the ideal legal support for corporations doing business in france

• Standard work of a French corporate lawyer

The standard work of a French corporate lawyer can be split into two main kinds of activities: legal assistance and litigation.

While assisting his client, a French corporate lawyer usually studies, drafts and negotiates various contracts. As a result, all corporate lawyers must be proficient in legal researches to ensure that their clients are in compliance with the most recent rules and regulations. A wide knowledge of contract law, which is the cornerstone of many aspects of corporate law, is often a prerequisite for French corporate lawyers.

When dealing with litigation, French corporate lawyers must not only be good orators and negotiator but also have strong and well developed writing skills in order to be most persuasive before the court.

Whatever the case and the type of matter, the client’s business and legal interests are always at the forefront of the corporate lawyer’s mind.

• A member of the Bar

It is mandatory for French corporate lawyers to be members of the Bar, while assisting clients or acting as a litigator.

As a result, French corporate lawyers are governed by the Bar regulations and they must obey a strict policy.

Professional secrecy is one of the most fundamental rules of the legal profession: French corporate lawyer’s professional secrecy obligations are general, absolute and unlimited in time.

The Bar’s regulations also require that each lawyer acts with proficiency, dedication, conscientiousness and caution.

Dedication to his profession and professional body as well as his expertise, puts the lawyer in the best position to advise and guide any company who aspires to do business in France.

• A corporate advisor doing business in France

French corporate lawyers must have a various set of skills, including business, financial, language and acumen.

It is important for French corporate lawyers, especially when dealing with international clients, to understand their client’s goals and to appreciate the business effect of any legal decisions they might take.

As a result, French corporate lawyers must have strong communications and analysis skills. They must be able to answer to all kind of clients, whether listed company or small enterprises, whether international or national. They must also be able to answer to a variety of requests from his client, whether it be an advice or a litigation, a review or a complete draft of a document.

As a French legal expert in business transactions, a French corporate lawyer is the best adviser for any company that wishes to do business and/or to litigate (in the corporate area) in France.

2- French corporate lawyers and m&a deals

• French corporate and tax lawyers: A complete team for your business in France

Mergers and acquisitions are a relatively complex area of corporate law as it requires knowledge in both corporate strategy and tax implications.

Therefore, corporate lawyers and tax lawyers are considered the perfect duo bringing the fullest resources and experience to handle any difficulty that may arise from such a transaction.

Thanks to their combined expertise, they can deliver a tailored solution to their clients and this is what most of companies are looking for when they decide to invest.

• French corporate lawyer can be involved at all stages of M&A deals

French corporate lawyers can be a real support for any company who wants to do business in France and acquire a French company.

Indeed, French corporate lawyers can be involved at all stages of the Merger and Acquisition transaction. For instance:

– They can help the client identifying prospective merger/acquisition candidates and/or prospective buyers;
– They can proceed to the due diligence of the company (tax, social, corporate);
– They can advise on how to structure the company post acquisition/merger (divestitures, spin-offs, subsidiaries, etc.);
– They can give advice on how to best structure financing of the company (different classes of equity v. debt, LBO’s, MBO’s, taking a public company private, etc.);
– They can seek, if necessary, regulatory approval for the deal (e.g., Anti-trust issues);
– They can also advise on the legal ramifications of the merger, sale, changing corporate structures, benefit plans, layoffs, tax, executive compensation, labor, environmental, government contracts, real estate, securities, international law, etc.
– In general, they have a substantial depth of experience and expertise in cross-border corporate transactions.

As legal experts of corporations and professionals dedicated to their clients, French corporate lawyers are definitely key-partners of corporations who want to do business in France.

3- In which cities are french corporate lawyers located?

The key legal markets in France are Paris (Central & North), Lyon (South East) and Bordeaux / Toulouse (South West). Consequently, the top French law firms have offices in, at least, two of these main legal markets.

It is more common for multinationals to work with leading international law firms based in Paris, regardless of the location of the project or dispute.

This is partly because it is particularly difficult to identify alternative firms who have enough resources to deliver a good and reliable legal service, in English, with qualified and experienced lawyers in both corporate and tax laws.

However, instructing a smaller French law firm is generally a reliable option, as the coverage of the top international firms is incomplete. Firms with a branch in French regions outside Paris can navigate through the local bureaucracy, and may handle local legal matters including those relating to labor, land, entity registration and commercial disputes.

Moreover, more often than not, regional firms (or Paris based law firms with a regional branch) charge much lower rates that top international firms or even law firms with a single office in Paris.

Consequently, the best option for a French corporate lawyer would be a member of a firm headquartered in Paris, with a local branch with staff and resources outside Paris.

For these reasons, it is not uncommon for in-house French counsels, even based in Paris, to instruct French corporate lawyers outside Paris, to play a direct interface role and supervise the work of local counsel in the regional cities.

Benoît LAFOURCADE

Co-Founder, Partner & Solicitor -
International Corporate Law & Litigation

Benoît, Delcade’s co-founder, is a Paris Bar lawyer and UK Solicitor (London).

Advisor for various embassies, working closely with the firm's team, Benoît offers his services to French and foreign companies requiring cross-cutting strategic and legal support in business law.

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