15 Sep 2021

Beiten Burkhardt, Nctm and Altana team up to form exclusive European alliance

Swiss verein Advant pools 600 professionals and 140 equity partners across 13 cities

Flags Italian, German and French

Zocchi Roberto; Shutterstock

Three of Europe’s leading legal players — Beiten Burkhardt in Munich, Nctm in Milan and Altana in Paris — have joined forces to launch Advant, an exclusive alliance under the umbrella of a Swiss verein. 

The alliance will see the firms retain their independent legal status and brands in their home jurisdictions while incorporating the Advant title into their respective identities going forward. 

The founding firms say they will operate as a ‘single entity’ to ramp up cooperation under the new Advant title to offer ‘seamless’ service to existing clients in continental Europe and internationally with a specific shared goal of becoming more visible to clients outside their home markets in North America and Asia. 

The trio had combined revenues of €216m in 2020 with more than 600 professionals and 140 equity partners. Advant's revenue would put it just outside the top 10 European law firms.

The leadership structure will consist of a board of six members with two partners from each firm, while there will be leadership groups for practice areas. The presidency will rotate every two years. 

M&A partner Jean-Nicolas Soret and Gilles Gaillard will sit on the leadership board from Altana, while competition partner Philipp Cotta and corporate/M&A co-head Christian von Wistinghausen will represent Beiten. Meanwhile, M&A partners Vittorio Noseda and Paolo Montironi, who is also one of Nctm's founding partners, will join the board for the Italian firm. Cotta will serve as Advant Beiten's managing partner and Montironi as senior partner of Advant Nctm. 

Soret said: “There is a distinctive opportunity in the legal market for an advisor that combines best-of-breed local expertise and relationships with international reach, but very much focused at a European level. This is the gap that Advant fills, offering clients a new perspective and a distinctive advantage as they seek to enter or expand within Europe.”

Advant's leaders liken their model to global giant CMS, whose member firms are coordinated by a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG). However, the three firms said it was too early to provide details about how services would be shared and funding pooled.

Munich-based Beiten, founded in 1990, currently employs around 260 lawyers, tax consultants and auditors. Milan-based Nctm, founded in 2000, boasts 262 lawyers, while Altana, the youngest member of the trio, employs 85 lawyers in its Paris headquarters, founded in 2009.

The three firms are notably members of existing networks: Beiten and Nctm joined the Employment Law Alliance in 2020 and 2021 respectively, while Altana became a founding firm of the Leading Construction Lawyers International Alliance last year. However, Cotta distinguished these memberships as ‘very sectoral’, meaning they differ from Advant’s structure which sees the trio come together as ‘one firm’. 

Advant’s initial geographic reach covers 11 locations across Europe – Berlin, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London, Milan, Munich, Moscow, Paris and Rome – while it has international bases in Beijing and Shanghai. It plans to recruit new members in key European markets over the next few years.

This is Beiten's second endeavour to forge a European alliance. It set up the BBLP partnership with three other European firms in 1999, only for it to fall apart in 2001.

The news comes as global law firm network Unyer, launched by French giant Fidal and German independent Luther in May, revealed Italy’s Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati as the third member of the exclusive alliance.

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