How is a law firm founded? Today mostly as a spin-off from leading national or international law firms. But in the 1990s things were - still - different. This was the time when many German law firms were allowed and wanted to merge into supra-local law firms for the first time. So how did Schalast Rechtsanwälte Notare come into being?
1995 - Something is created
In a very simple way. In May 1995, a office sign was hung on the wall of an office building in Frankfurt's Westend in Unterlindau. Prior to that, there were exciting years in Berlin, especially with consulting assignments for the Treuhand and (a few years ago) privatized companies in the new federal states. The founding DNA consisted of accompanying a buy and build strategy for a private equity fund in the consolidating broadband cable market - of which there were not so many in Germany at that time - as well as real estate based NPL transactions. There were three first clients, the British financial investor Alchemy, a mortgage bank based in Berlin and the once leading toothpaste producer of the former GDR. The next stops were Wilhelm-Hauff-Straße, where the firm was based until 2005 and was able to develop its important role in the infrastructure, broadband cable/telecommunications sector, and then in 2005 the move to Mendelssohnstraße 75-77. But the years were eventful and the crash of the new market in 2000 left its mark, especially noticeable in the first IPO that Schalast accompanied, SMATcom AG, which had to be cancelled three days before the planned IPO. Nevertheless, the growth continued, which was impressively confirmed in 2007 with the JUVE Awards for "Medium-sized Law Firm of the Year", "Law Firm of the Year Frankfurt" and "Law Firm of the Year Telecommunications".
The 2008s - turbulent times and rapid growth
However, 2007 was only a brief respite, the financial crisis was already on the horizon and materialized at the latest after the Lehman insolvency in September 2008. Nevertheless, the original DNA strands of the firm were successfully further developed. From the transaction practice focused on private equity we developed the Corporate/M&A practice group, which today has a broad base, and from the NPL transactions with their strong regulatory impact developed we developed one of the leading banking and finance law practices in the German financial centre Frankfurt (and NPL still exists, of course). Subsequently, the broadband cable boutique became a full-service law firm with strong additional emphasis on employment law, IT/IP and litigation, as well as new offices in Berlin (from 2006) and Hamburg (from 2017).
Legaltech, awards and internationality
Furthermore, the topic of LegalTech and LegalProjects was taken up and expanded early on with the acquisition of the subsidiary CLARIUS.LEGAL in the summer of 2017. A development which then led to the leading international industry magazine "The Lawyer" naming Schalast "Law Firm of the Year Germany" in 2018. One reason for this was certainly also the successful integration into the Tier 1 (according to Chambers last in 2020) network Multilaw during the 2010s and the steadily growing cross-border activity that accompanied it. But the next challenge is already on the doorstep: This is the issue of sustainability: Schalast became a Carbon Neutral Law Firm at the beginning of 2020, pursuing important United Nations Goals in the field of sustainability.
It's a pity that the 25th anniversary party on our rooftop cannot take place because of the Corona pandemic, but the last few months have shown how clients and law firms can become and communicate more digitally. We will make up for the anniversary celebration, I promise!
From the small beginning in the Westend, Schalast comprises over 50 lawyers in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin and a team of 15 professionals at CLARIUS.LEGAL today.
And we look forward to the next 25 years!