Most Innovative Law Firm Germany
SGT Rechtsanwaelte primarily advises corporates and high-net worth-clients on their legal affairs and acts as an external legal department for companies who do not have their own legal desk. We spoke to Dr. Simon-Alexander Zeidler, Partner at SGT Rechtsanwälte, to find out more about their firm, and how they consistently deliver for their clients.
In terms of our expertise, we provide legal advice to our corporate clients in all of their legal affairs, including litigation. In some areas, like labour law and tax law, we work together with partner law firms specialised in this area. Our services cover a highly diverse range of areas including: banking and financial markets, commercial law and contracting, company law, real estate, energy, new economy, internet, IT and data protection, compliance and services of a notary public.
As a company working in a highly competitive industry, we believe that our wealth of experience is what separates us from our competitors. Most of our partners have worked for international law firms before they came to us, and it is because of this that we work for national and international companies at a very high level.
Added to our expertise, we also have an “in-house desk”, which allows clients to have the same level of services as an own legal team. This team contains three lawyers who spent several years in law departments of companies, and one of them established the law and compliance department of an international bank in Germany and headed it for nearly 25 years. With this experience, we offer to our clients a full service, and in this way is the equivalent of them having their own legal department. By “services” we do not only mean the legal knowledge which is normally offered, but also the pragmatic approach only an internal legal department has. Our clients can buy a detailed and extensive legal opinion from us, and take into account all of the options available to them. Nevertheless, most of our clients prefer a fast and practical solution without endless caveats and the last dissent opinion available. If the management of a client is decisive, we can complement this with quick and short legal advice.
From our experience, the competition in our industry is growing fast. Even the large international law firms, usually booked on M&A transactions, do accept clients they would not have – say – ten years ago. As such, new areas of practice develop and have to be covered. A prime example of this is online law, which nowadays is relevant to almost every company. If you ignore developments such as these, you will find yourself struggling in the market. The same applies for data protection law, where ten years ago no one really cared about this yet today is frequently requested by our clients. However, the most stunning development has been in compliance. This is not even its own field of law but an interdisciplinary skill of process management and legal management. No one in Germany, besides the financial institutions, really cared about this before the “Siemens Bribery Scandals” happened.
Since then, the legal environment totally changed. Advisory companies in this area have sprung up like mushrooms, and each lawyer, business consultant and accountant offers “Compliance-Services”. As a matter of fact, if you cannot help your client with this regard you may end up losing your client. And yet, compliance is not very complicated, and is basically process management and communication. Again, our experience as in-house lawyers has helped us, and we understand how communication within a company works and how you translate a complicated legal matter – like antitrust law – in simple words to non-legal employees. There’s really not much to it. From our experience, there is no big secret behind success in legal consulting. It all comes down to the client, and we simply make sure that our clients are happy with our services. We try to be close to the business of our clients, to understand what they are doing and to provide them with the best legal service we can. It’s as simple as that.
In terms of our clients, we mainly work for small and middle sized companies in Germany and abroad. On the whole, we advise financial service providers, online shops, real estate funds, investment funds, old-economy companies, automotive supplier, watch fabricants and family offices, to name a few. As a result of the success of our clients, most of our clients have come from referrals. The majority of our clients come from the network of our existing clients, and only in some target areas – like in online law, we do further work to attract business such as with publications and lectures.
When it comes to managing our workload, it is important that we do not work with a high leverage. Our clients are businesspeople and they expect to be advised by businesspeople. Therefore, we operate with a high number of partners and not too many associates. The main issue for us is to get the right partners on board accepted by our clients. Generally speaking, not every good lawyer is also able to be a good partner, and through looking at our growth we have managed to progress at a stable and manageable level.
During the past number of years, we have had to learn how to handle growing our business and at the same time not compromising our services. . There is a saying in Germany: “Put two lawyers together and you will get three opinions on the case”. There is some truth in that and this does also apply if the lawyers do work together. However, beyond this minor challenge I do not see any other real challenge for our company to stay successful. The industry will have to face more competition because the number of lawyers is rising which does not always mean an increase in qualified legal advice.