The largest law and notary firms in the Netherlands

21 June 2017 4 min. read
More news on

The number of lawyers employed at the fifty largest Dutch law firms increased by 2% to more than 4,400, last year, reveals new analysis. Growth was highest in the top ten segment of the law industry, with an increase of 10%, accounting for almost 100 additional lawyers.

According to information from the Professional Association of Lawyers in the Netherlands, around 17,500 legal professionals currently practice in the Netherlands, with the majority working in smaller offices of up to 20 lawyers. 5,300 lawyers work for an office sized between two and five FTE’s, while 4,600 practice in offices with between six and 20 lawyers. In offices with between 21 and 60 lawyers, about 2,200 lawyers work, while offices with more than 60 lawyers are good for around 2,400 lawyers. The number of attendees in law is estimated at approximately 2,800. Over the past 20 years, the number of active lawyers has more than doubled in the country.

Developments in the Dutch law and notary sector

The largest law firms in the Netherlands

As per the past five years, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek (De Brauw), led the market in legal employment with 312 lawyers*. NautaDutilh placed 2nd, hosting 269 attorneys, followed by Loyens & Loeff (257), Houthoff Buruma (237) and AKD (204). The rest of the top 10 consists of Stibbe (188), Allen & Overy (168), Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn (147), Van Doorne (144) and Clifford Chance who employ 139 lawyers. All of the top 10 players expanded their staff in 2016. The most rapid growers were Loyens & Loeff (+17 lawyers), Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn (+9) and Van Doorne (+11), while the fastest growth expansion the top 10 was realised by AKD, adding 28 lawyers to its ranks (+16%).

Top 25 largest law firms in the Netherlands

The last two offices on the list that employ more than 100 attorneys are CMS and HVG (part of Big Four accounting and consulting firm EY). Although CMS saw a drop in the number of lawyers of 9%, the office retained its 11th position with 116 lawyers. According to the data, HVG meanwhile ranked 12th with 2 lawyers less than the #11, and posted 2% growth over last year.

Top 25-50 largest law firms in the Netherlands

Multinational legal firm Baker McKenzie saw numbers shrink by 8% to 85 lawyers and therefore dropped out of the 15 largest employers in Dutch law, placing 16th. Jones Day meanwhile became the highest ranked newcomers in the list with 42 lawyers. The American-based firm expanded operations to the Netherlands three years ago, opening a branch in Amsterdam which grew by 11 lawyers in 2016.

“All in all, the top 50 gives a typical image of the top segment of the Dutch law landscape; it is either growing or losing terrain. The largest offices all increased in size, while re-positioning and restructuring is taking hold of the middle market segment. Perhaps next year, the realignment will broaden and we will see deepers effects of the changing face of the Dutch legal landscape,” state a spokesperson of the Association of Lawyers.

Top 10 largest notary firms in the Netherlands

The largest Dutch notary firms

Loyens & Loeff were meanwhile the biggest notary office by far, hosting 72 notaries. The list of top 30 notary offices in the Netherlands contains both law firms and offices that focus entirely on notary activities. Other top law firms were NautaDutilh (40 notaries), Houthoff Buruma (39), De Brauw (35) and Van Doorne (27), while VBC ranks as the largest 'pure' notary firm in the Netherlands, also with 27 notaries. The rest of the top 10 notary offices consisted of HVG, Stibbe, Actus and Daamen de Kort van Tuijl. Stibbe grew the hardest, growing their notary branch with 8 candidates, while NautaDutilh and HVG added 5 new professionals to their notaries departments. This was not entirely replicated across the board however, and four of the top 11-30 notary offices infact faced a shrinkage.

Top 11-30 largest notary firms in the Netherlands

Related: Top 50 law and legal firms of the United Kingdom.

* The reference date used for the analysis is January 1, 2017. Since that date, several changes have occurred, including Kennedy Van der Laan seeing a team of five lawyers and notaries leaving (they established the Dutch Fieldfisher location). Höcker meanwhile has separated into new companies, and in April Boekel rebranded as Dentons Boekel. These changes are not processed in the graphs.