German Business

Arnall Golden Gregory LLP maintains a large, national German Business Team focused on the representation of German-, Austrian- and Swiss-owned corporations and individuals doing business in the U.S. Four AGG attorneys and six other professionals are fluent in written and spoken German.

AGG attorneys and paralegals use their bilingual skills to support clients in corporate, employment, immigration, litigation, real estate and tax law. Two AGG attorneys are fully qualified to practice law in both Germany and the U.S. The team’s attorneys are represented on the Board of Directors of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeastern United States, the German American Cultural Foundation and the German School of Atlanta, along with being Vertrauensanwälte to the Austrian Trade Commission and the German Consulate General in Atlanta.

Representative industries include automotive and manufacturing sectors, information technology, life sciences and renewable energy industries.

Corporate — General

AGG's German Business Team represents large, medium and small corporations with their ongoing legal needs in the U.S. Team members also help German, Austrian and Swiss companies entering the U.S. market define and implement a legal strategy that minimizes risk to the owners, managers and foreign parent company while maximizing returns earned from the U.S. engagement. Many of AGG's client companies are family-owned and managed, so avoiding veil-piercing, product liability and similar risks, planning for intergenerational wealth transfer, maximizing tax efficiency, and minimizing legal effort and formalities are of particular concern. We emphasize entering the U.S. with a flexible, practical plan in place, as opposed to reacting piecemeal to the onslaught of issues that arise during market entry.

Our clients generally choose between a number of modes of market entry:

  • organization of a sales, distribution, service or support subsidiary, a strategy often driven by customer perception or visa concerns;
  • licensing and franchise models that shift much of the work to U.S. partners;
  • joint ventures with local partner(s) in the U.S.;
  • acquisition of a competitor or partner in the U.S.; and
  • establishment of greenfield distribution, assembly or production facilities in the U.S.

The most appropriate market entry model depends on the customer's needs, the market entry timeline that has often been set by one or more North American customers, the level of capital and management involvement to be invested in the U.S. market operation, and the unique goals and legal concerns of each business and its customers and owners. Regardless of the mode of market entry chosen, AGG has bilingual experts who emphasize reducing risk to the foreign owners, managers and parent company while minimizing legal formalities and efforts by focusing on typical areas of concern such as:

  • organization of a US entity and isolation of contract issues in the U.S.;
  • product liability risks;
  • patent issues;
  • tax structuring issues (including avoiding accidental creation of a "permanent establishment" in the U.S.);
  • minimizing the level of capital required to be invested and financial commitments by the U.S. subsidiary required to be guaranteed by the home country parent; and
  • responding appropriately but firmly to legal threats and issues when they arise, with the aim of achieving a swift, efficient settlement.

With respect to minimizing capital commitments and/or parent guarantees required in connection with the U.S. engagement, AGG has been particularly successful in negotiating with lenders and soliciting and negotiating economic incentives packages throughout the U.S. that seek to share investment costs with local community partners.
 
Corporate Services — Contracts / Mergers and Acquisitions / Intellectual Property Rights

AGG counsels German-, Austrian- and Swiss-owned emerging and growing companies at all stages of their growth—from start-up to mid-sized to large companies—with respect to cooperate governance, and draft and review of terms and conditions and contracts, such as sales, agency, distribution, licensing, software and all other contracts.

With respect to mergers and acquisitions and strategic alliances, AGG guides its clients through the process addressing all important issues, including the structure of the transaction, the indemnifications that survive the closing and the composition of any earn outs, at the same time highlighting and addressing any significant legal differences between the U.S. and German, Austrian or Swiss legal systems. AGG further represents clients in all facets of trademark, patent and copyright law to ensure that existing foreign and newly conceived U.S. intellectual property rights will be properly protected in the U.S.

Economic Development Incentives

AGG has more than 35 years experience in economic development, including negotiating incentives of all types from federal, state and local governments and agencies, power suppliers and development authorities, and then helping companies complete projects in the U.S. Creative financing based on a combination of property tax reduction, tax credits, grants, low or no interest loans and credit enhancement have been a recognized strength. AGG has experience in representing companies with projects, development authorities, lenders, bond financing and credit enhancement.

Immigration

AGG maintains a national immigration practice employing three German-speaking attorneys and three German-speaking paralegals. Members of the practice have extensive experience representing German-, Swiss- and Austrian-owned companies in connection with both immigrant and non-immigrant visa processing for businesses and families (temporary work visas and green cards), immigration consequences of mergers and acquisitions and immigration reform and control act compliance. These areas include E, L, H, J, O and P visa processing, as well as green card processing in all employment-based categories, including the EB-5 Investor visa category. In addition, AGG represents U.S. companies in connection with applications for German work and residence permits.

Employment

AGG maintains a national employment practice with extensive experience representing German-, Swiss- and Austrian-owned companies in all aspects of managing their employee relations. We frequently represent German companies who are starting to do business in the U.S. in preparing employment contracts, employment handbooks, offer letters and core policies and procedures that govern all aspects of the employment relationship. We also assist these companies to comply with the various federal, state and local laws governing wages, hours of work, working conditions, employee benefits and prohibitions against discrimination in the workplace. While our goal is to keep our clients away from lawsuits, we routinely defend companies in claims brought by the government and by their present and former employees.

Litigation

AGG’s business litigation lawyers regularly counsel German-, Swiss- and Austrian-owned companies on how they can avoid or successfully resolve business disputes. Whether we negotiate, engage in alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation, or advocate for our clients in the courtroom, our approach is the same: we take a deep understanding of the client’s organization and use the best research, legal argument and forensic presentation to accomplish the client’s business objectives and goals. Contributing to our effectiveness are the German-law trained attorneys on our team. Since we understand the basic differences between the German civil law system and the U.S. legal system, our litigation attorneys not only develop effective legal strategies, they know how to communicate it to the German business and legal team. We assist our clients in all aspects of the dispute resolution and litigation and trial process by:

  • undertaking cost-effective research of issues and evaluating legal risk and alternatives across the full range of business disputes;
  • navigating the U.S. discovery rules, including responding to various forms of legal process; and
  • defending and prosecuting litigation in courts and arbitration tribunals across the country.

 
Contractor Licensing

Many Germany-, Switzerland- and Austria-based companies enter the U.S. market to supply major automotive production facilities, which requires a contractor's license. AGG has expertise in this area, employing a bilingual attorney focused on the preparation of contractor's licenses as well as expediting them through state systems.

Real Estate

Attorneys in AGG's Commercial Real Estate Practice Group have substantial experience in helping German and other European clients evaluate the business and legal risks facing international investors acquiring, developing or selling real estate throughout the U.S. and overseas. AGG attorneys have represented European investors in a broad range of real estate projects including regional malls and shopping centers, office buildings, manufacturing plants, warehouse facilities, residential subdivision developments, hotels, golf courses and other resort amenities. As appropriate, our real estate lawyers work closely with our Tax Practice Group, which has considerable experience in addressing the complex international tax issues and ownership structures that often accompany an investment by a German or other European entity in U.S. property.

International Arbitration

AGG attorneys have acted as arbitrators and counsel in international arbitration proceedings administered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) and other major international arbitral tribunals. They are also experienced in the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards under the New York Convention and obtaining provisional relief in aid of international arbitration proceedings.