Euro Elite: Iberia – Stronger together

Iberia’s all-important tourism and hospitality sectors have taken a hit during the pandemic, and continued restrictions mean it could be some time before international holidaymakers are able to return. While Covid-19 has brought unique challenges, independent law firms in the region were already facing tough competition from global players and the Big Four accounting firms.

In Spain, the elite independent firms are well established, but so too are some of their biggest international competitors, including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters. ‘The Spanish legal sector is very robust due to its competitiveness,’ notes Salvador Sánchez-Terán, managing partner at Iberian heavyweight Uría Menéndez. ‘Full-service firms such as ours are able to cope with crisis situations rather well, as our business is generated by clients requiring assistance from multiple practice areas.’ Continue reading “Euro Elite: Iberia – Stronger together”

Euro Elite: Ireland – All-comers welcome?

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Ireland’s independent legal market has reason for optimism: the Irish economy is expected to be one of the most resilient in the EU, according to November 2020 forecasts by the EU Commission, with GDP expected to return to growth in 2021. This is largely thanks to the country’s thriving life sciences and technology sectors and the presence of numerous major multinationals – among them Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer – which have their European headquarters in Dublin and in the south and west of Ireland. As a result, production and exports, particularly of medicinal products and computer services, have remained strong.

‘Client activity has remained robust during this time, despite the uncertainty,’ explains Owen O’Sullivan, recently appointed managing partner at William Fry. ‘While it’s true that most sectors are facing challenges, especially those directly impacted by physical-distancing measures, such as tourism, travel, retail, hospitality and live events, other sectors are enjoying significant demand and growth at this time – for example, healthcare, retail grocery, and online entertainment and communications.’ Continue reading “Euro Elite: Ireland – All-comers welcome?”

Euro Elite: Italy – Forza Italia

The Italian market differs deeply from other European legal markets in one key regard: international firms are spread wide throughout Italy, but are often only selectively present in the market. Many of them are either strong only in specific areas or had to resort to sporadic lateral hires in order to offer a full-service, to the detriment of a cohesive team and vision. Accordingly, it is the independent firms that are often seen as the true market force.

BonelliErede and Chiomenti, as well as Gianni & Origoni and Legance, account for a significant chunk of the market. Armed with this strength, Chiomenti’s managing partner Filippo Modulo is well pleased with the past year’s performance and does not seem concerned about the future. With businesses and finance up and running, and capital as available as ever, 2020 was for a record year for Chiomenti. When asked about the next 12 months and possible downturns or recessions, his answer is clear: the question is misplaced. Continue reading “Euro Elite: Italy – Forza Italia”

Euro Elite: Nordics – Solid states

Despite varying governmental approaches to the coronavirus response across the Nordics, there is a consistent optimism throughout the region, both with regards to what 2021 holds and also the overarching impact of the virus on the markets in the long term.

‘Largely, and perhaps surprisingly, the feeling is that it has been business as usual,’ states Gorrissen Federspiel’s managing partner Martin André Dittmer of the Danish market. ‘When the pandemic broke, there was a lot of uncertainty around how the market would respond and how businesses would navigate the situation. But once the initial shock had subsided, what we mostly experienced was a focus on government relief packages and issues relating to employers’ legal obligations.’ Continue reading “Euro Elite: Nordics – Solid states”

Euro Elite: Russia and CIS – Bear necessities

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the Russian Federation particularly hard, with the country repeatedly topping all lists for its highest numbers of reported coronavirus cases in Europe. The consequences for the Russian economy were almost instant, with local unemployment rates climbing quickly and consumption rates declining early in the spring of 2020. Naturally, the legal market was also affected by all this.

At the time, both Russian and international law firms had something in common: they were quick to react to the pandemic, closing offices and adjusting successfully to working remotely. Not only did the legal market do its best to contain the impact of the pandemic among its employees and clients – eventually, it played an active part in combating its spread. Continue reading “Euro Elite: Russia and CIS – Bear necessities”

Euro Elite: Southern Europe – Sole resistance

The Eastern Mediterranean countries featured in the Euro Elite – namely Greece, Turkey and Israel – occupy a region where, for one reason or another, international law firms largely refrain from active participation in the local legal markets; leaving a void for high-end, international expertise, willingly filled by domestic, independent firms.

In Israel, international law firms were not permitted to operate in the nation until an amendment made to the Israel Bar Association Law in August 2012. Understandably, eight years is not sufficient time for the foundations of the legal market to drastically shift meaning that very few international firms have any form of presence in the nation. Those that do only have a handful of on-the-ground lawyers between them. Continue reading “Euro Elite: Southern Europe – Sole resistance”

Euro Elite: Switzerland – Locked down

In a space of only 41,285 km², Switzerland has two major language areas and 26 cantons, giving it a fairly unique set-up. Known to be one of the richest countries in the world, it had little problem absorbing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to its stable economy. However, ‘the government hasn’t been very successful at combating the virus’, says Daniel Hochstrasser, senior partner and chair of Bär & Karrer, referring to the country’s at times high numbers of cases and deaths. ‘But that has not changed much in the overall assessment of Switzerland on a global scale.’

With high activity in the industrial, manufacturing and financial services sectors, Bär & Karrer can look back on a successful 2020 overall. ‘The effects were less pronounced than we anticipated when we drew up contingency plans in March,’ says Hochstrasser. ‘In the end, we fortunately didn’t have to take any of those measures’. A highlight for the firm was advising Libra Association on its bid to build a global payment system based on the Libra blockchain; a matter that combined expertise from its banking and finance, fintech and tax departments. Continue reading “Euro Elite: Switzerland – Locked down”

The Euro Elite: Methodology

Legal Business’ Euro Elite comprises independent law firms based in more than 40 European jurisdictions, rather than branches of international firms or Vereins.

To compile the 100 firms featured in this report, we used a scoring system based on the rankings of firms in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500 EMEA. Points were allocated for firms ranked in tiers 1-3 in tables featured in the guide. Top-tier rankings earned three points, second tier two and third one point. Continue reading “The Euro Elite: Methodology”

Getting personal – perspectives on crisis management in the Covid-19 era

How to build the ship while sailing it, Mark Rigotti

‘The Covid-19 crisis is creating a lot of learning and insight across the legal sector and the wider communities in which we work and live. Much of this revolves around actions that organisations and their leaders are taking to navigate the crisis – including what leaders should do to manage uncertainty. Continue reading “Getting personal – perspectives on crisis management in the Covid-19 era”