Legal Opportunities in Paris
Paris has the most opportunities for UK lawyers. It is one of the largest continental European legal centres and is regarded as a major hub for pan-European business. Much European cross-border trade and finance generally will involve a French aspect making it an essential business jurisdiction.
The quality of commercial legal work on offer is similar to that of London and most of this work is in English. Whilst French language skills will ease an ex-pat into life outside of the office, it is not essential to the practice of law. That said, most firms require some degree of French language capability.
Legal Market in Paris
The international firms, principally the English and American firms, lead the way in France and have been in the French market for decades. However, there are a number of very good French firms who have offices abroad as well. Although there are some resident ex-pat partners in the Paris offices, the majority of partners and fee-earners will be French advocates.
Projected Trends for 2015/16
The most significant areas of demand are Finance and International Arbitration. The other practice groups tend to be dominated by the local lawyers.
Paris is renowned for arbitration work and it is very much seen as the global hub. This particular area is constantly busy and firms are always looking to expand and develop existing teams.
The size of the transactional teams in major international and US firms seem to have increased significantly over the last year (reflecting the increased optimism being felt globally). The key finance groups are: banking; capital markets; structured finance; project finance; asset finance; and securitisation. Interest in corporate candidates has also increased however these roles tend to require local law capability.
Remuneration and Benefits
Salaries in Paris for ex-pat lawyers follow London rates. There is a tendency for rates to be slightly lower (10-15%) but after taking into account the lower cost of living, the financial package can be attractive.
It is most common for law firms to take on lateral lawyers as independent contractors (with ‘profession liberale’ status). This is because firms will have to pay additional taxes and social security contributions. On an independent contractor basis, the lawyer picks up the tab on these expenses and is usually paid a higher rate as a result. This is the norm across continental Europe. Independent contractors are able to claim many expenses against their taxable income, thereby reducing their tax bill.
The lifestyle in Paris is unique; it is an exciting and vibrant city recognised the world over as offering an unrivalled (life)style and culture. It is very much the culture in Paris to rent and there are a number of Parisian neighbourhoods each with a distinct feel and atmosphere.
You should expect to pay around the €1,600-2,000 mark for a two bedroom apartment close to the centre of Paris. For those with families, the surrounding areas such as Versailles and Chatou are good options as there are rail networks connecting them to the city centre.
Whilst the limited space has made Paris a difficult place to drive and park, it has an extensive and efficient transport network including rail and Metro options.