CMS (law firm)

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CMS Legal Services EEIG
TypePrivate (european economic interest grouping)
Founded20 December 1999; 23 years ago (1999-12-20)
Number of locations
Approx. 80 (2022)
Area served
Key people
  • Pierre-Sébastien Thill
  • Duncan Weston
    (Executive Partner)
  • Isabel Scholes
    (Executive Director)
ServicesLegal and tax advice
RevenueIncrease 1.426 billion[1] (2019)
Members18 (2022)
Number of employees
Increase 8,000 (2019)
Footnotes / references
Annual Review 2019–2020

CMS is an international law firm that offers legal and tax advisory services. It provides companies and organisations with advice on a full range of legal issues.[2] CMS consists of 18 independent law firms with about 80 offices worldwide.


In 1999, six European law firms with 1,400+ lawyers and roughly DM 500 million in joint revenues came together to form CMS.[3] Under the CMS brand, which initially drew criticism,[4] a "partnership of partnerships" emerged.[5][6] The member law firms retained their established names.[7] A central service unit was created to provide administrative and IT services for the members.[8]

Initially, CMS included law firms from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom among others.[9] Over the course of the 2000s, additional law firms joined from France, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland and Spain, along with other countries.[10][11][12][13][14] In 2008, the law firm opened its first joint office in Russia.[15] With the merger of CMS Cameron McKenna with Nabarro and Olswang in 2016, the law firm expanded once again.[16] This resulted in CMS generating a total revenue of roughly one billion EUR for the first time.[17][18][19] Today, there are also CMS offices in Latin America and Africa.[20][21]


Carter-Ruck was involved in legal action against Financial Times journalist Catherine Belton and her publisher HarperCollins over her book Putin’s People.[22]

In April 2022, CMS law firm was named alongside Harbour Litigation Funding by Kevin Hollinrake MP, in a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, as two professional services firms acting for the benefit of Russian state entities during the invasion of Ukraine. The letter highlighted that both Harbour and CMS are working on behalf of the Russian state-owned DIA to bypass sanction regimes and obtain funds and assets from abroad in order to fund the war in Ukraine.[23]

CMS was named by U.S. congressman Steve Cohen as doing "unscrupulous" work for Russia that undermined democratic values and strengthened the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia. CMS rejected allegations of impropriety and said the firm had not accepted new instructions from individuals associated with the Putin regime.[22]


CMS coordinates the activities of its members through CMS Legal Services EEIG, a european economic interest grouping.[24] In its early phase, it handled administrative tasks, gradually taking on additional duties, e.g. in marketing. CMS Legal Services does not act on behalf of clients. As a not for profit entity, it is financed by means of revenue contributions from the participating law firms, which remain legally independent.[25]

The CMS Council functions as the highest decision-making body of CMS. It convenes at least twice a year, taking decisions on budgets and the acceptance of new members. Moreover, there is an Executive Committee, which handles strategic issues such as the appointment and governance of the executive team. Each participating law firm appoints representatives to the Committee.[24]

The daily running of CMS is in the hands of a three-person executive team. It consists of Pierre-Sébastien Thill (Chairman), Duncan Weston (Executive Partner) and Isabel Scholes (Executive Director).[26]


Currently, CMS has 18 member firms with main headquarters in twelve European, four South American and two African countries.[27] In addition to legal services provided in their home countries, the member law firms are active in other countries via branches, subsidiaries and associated law firms, along with offices and representative offices in other countries.[28]



CMS pursues a full-service strategy,[29] and offers companies of various sizes worldwide business-focused advice in law and tax matters. The key specialist areas include corporate law, capital markets law, tax law, energy law, procurement law, competition law and labour law.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dalla Bona, Cristiano (14 July 2020). "2019/20 Financials: CMS Reveals Another Year of Single-Digit Revenue Growth". The Lawyer. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  2. ^ Peters, Patrick (21 March 2014). "Beratung bei strategischen Themen". Bergische Morgenpost (in German).
  3. ^ "Wirtschaftskanzleien fusionieren". Hamburger Abendblatt (in German). 30 April 1999. p. 21.
  4. ^ Tödtmann, Claudia (9 September 1999). "Anwälte: Versteckspielen gilt nicht". Wirtschaftswoche (in German). p. 120.
  5. ^ "Neue Vereinigung von Anwälten". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). 4 May 1999. p. 26.
  6. ^ Pfeffer, Alexander (22 June 1999). "Europäische Union der Anwälte". WirtschaftsBlatt (in German). p. 6.
  7. ^ "Integration Push Sparks CMS Name-Dropping Row". The Lawyer. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  8. ^ Becker, Walther (1 April 2003). "CMS Hasche Sigle ist eigenständig im Verbund". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). p. 10.
  9. ^ "Sechs europäische Spitzen-Kanzleien arbeiten zusammen". Die Welt (in German). 29 April 1999. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Francis Lefebvre Joins the CMS Global Alliance". The Lawyer. 12 February 2001. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  11. ^ Wicke, Vera (1 March 2002). "CMS steuert nach Italien" (in German). Juve Verlag. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  12. ^ Ward, Anna (10 July 2017). "CMS Moves into Monaco Market via Tie-Up with Local Firm". Legalweek. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  13. ^ Brenner, Beat (15 May 2000). "Schweizerisch-britische Anwaltsfusion: Erlach Klainguti Stettler Wille zieht es nach London". Neue Zürcher Zeitung (in German). p. 20.
  14. ^ Albert, Christine (4 November 2004). "Nun auch in Spanien: CMS erweitert Netzwerk" (in German). Juve Verlag. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  15. ^ Becker, Walther (3 December 2008). "CMS-Kanzleien in Moskau zusammen". Börsen-Zeitung (in German). p. 10.
  16. ^ Hyde, John (10 October 2016). "It's a Deal: CMS Confirms Merger with Olswang and Nabarro". The Law Society Gazette. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  17. ^ Coe, Aebra (10 June 2016). "Int'l Law Firm CMS' Revenue Breaks Through €1B Barrier". Law360. Portfolio Media. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  18. ^ Ames, Jonathan (10 October 2016). "Law Firm Merger Creates £1bn Giant". The Times. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  19. ^ "CMS: Fast eine Milliarde Euro Umsatz". Legal Tribune Online (in German). 20 June 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  20. ^ "Drei neue Mitgliedskanzleien: CMS-Verbund wächst in Lateinamerika" (in German). Juve Verlag. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Ausbau in Afrika: Kanzleien aus Südafrika und Kenia treten weltweitem CMS-Netzwerk bei" (in German). Juve Verlag. 15 October 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  22. ^ a b "US congressman urges Biden to ban six UK lawyers for 'enabling' oligarchs". the Guardian. 19 April 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Tory backbencher calls on government to close 'loopholes' letting London firms work for the Kremlin". CityAM. 11 April 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  24. ^ a b "CMS Legal Services". Unternehmensregister (in German). Bundesanzeiger Verlag. 6 July 2001. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  25. ^ Meiselles, Michala (2015). "The European Economic Interest Grouping – A Chance for Multinationals?". European Business Law Review. Kluwer Law International (26). ISSN 0959-6941.
  26. ^ "CMS: Cornelius Brandi gibt Führung des Kanzleiverbunds ab". Legal Tribune Online (in German). 18 June 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Legal Information". CMS Legal Services. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  28. ^ "CMS Legal Services". Global Competition Review. Vol. 100, no. 19. 23 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  29. ^ Tismer, Christoph (2002). "CMS – Full Service statt nur Highend-Geschäft" (PDF). Justament (in German). Retrieved 11 March 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to CMS (law firm) at Wikimedia Commons