Nerves of steel: Ireland

Nerves of steel: Ireland

As little as five years ago, the consensus was that Ireland was a mature legal market. In a failed experiment, UK firm Masons (legacy firm of Pinsent Masons) had packed in its projects and construction boutique after a mere six years, citing fierce market competition.

Certainly, despite the construction boom, the Irish legal market was an unlikely place for an international firm to launch: it already had its Big Five — Ireland’s Magic Circle — plus several more entrepreneurial firms sitting below them getting ready to pounce. With a population of less than five million, it was inconceivable that a newcomer could threaten their domination. Who would want to move into such a tightly held monopoly? Nobody seemed surprised when Masons moved out in 2004.

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Home rule: Romania

Home rule: Romania

International firms in Romania don’t just face a weakened economy, they also face stiff competition from a host of major domestic rivals. Legal Business analyses a market in flux

Entering a new jurisdiction is never easy. On top of the start-up costs, the need to establish a strong team of local lawyers and a solid client base, there is also the tricky matter of timing. It can take up to two or three years of planning before you are finally able to put that new city onto your law firm’s website. By which time, the market that so attracted you in the first place might have altered drastically.

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Voyage of discovery: Portugal

Voyage of discovery: Portugal

The downturn in Portugal’s economy means that overseas markets, including Africa and Brazil, have become an even more valuable source of work for the country’s law firms

Since Portuguese sailors began exploring the West Coast of Africa almost 600 years ago, the country has forged a reputation for venturing into new, overseas territories. Today, the countries of lusophone Africa and Brazil provide manifold investment opportunities for Portugal’s major corporates and their advisers.

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Nordic rivals

Nordic rivals

As Finnish firm Roschier hires yet another partner in Stockholm, Legal Business reports on how world events and regional rivalries have transformed the approach and strategies of the Nordic legal profession

Rivalries are rarely more intense than the enmity between the Finland and Sweden ice hockey sides. Sweden took the plaudits in the recent Winter Olympics with a straightforward 3-0 win, but when it comes to legal market superiority, the Finnish have clearly roughed up the Swedes.

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Changing tack

Changing tack

Amid leaner times in the Gulf and a flat economy in Dubai, international clients are moving their focus to other key Gulf states. LB canvasses the leading domestic and international firms and asks, what next?

In early 2012, the sailing dhows off the coast of Abu Dhabi will have some serious competition on their hands. The emirate is due to play host to the yachts of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, in another sign of its growing profile and confidence on the world stage.

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Shaking it up

Shaking it up

As more global law firms establish offices in Brazil, some have tied-up with local firms while others remain unattached. Legal Business finds out who has the right mix

The big news in the Brazilian legal market has been the surge in the number of international players joining the party. UK and US firms, including Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, DLA Piper, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Mayer Brown, have all set up shop in São Paulo in the past two years (see box, ‘International office launches in Brazil’). The new arrivals join those who have been resident for some time, including Allen & Overy, Linklaters, White & Case and Clifford Chance. The number of Global 100 firms in São Paulo, Brazil’s key commercial and financial centre, has grown from six to 12 since 2007.

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Waltzing on

Waltzing on

Austria’s banking system was rocked by the near-collapse of Hypo Group Alpe Adria and its resulting nationalisation. Legal Business looks at the law firms called in to save the country’s sixth-largest lender, and the lucrative mandates picked up by Austria’s top legal advisers in response to recent events

For Austria’s law firms, it looked like party time when BayernLB acquired Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) back in 2007. HGAA was a top player in Balkan markets such as Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. BayernLB expected the profits to roll in and HGAA’s IPO was eagerly anticipated. Continue reading “Waltzing on”

A hive of activity

A hive of activity

Israel has the highest number of lawyers per capita of any country in the world – one lawyer for every 166 people – and so far it has managed to keep them all busy. For a country with a population of 7.3 million, a legal profession boasting 44,000 participants is quite some feat (the UK has 150,000).

In the past decade many of the top Israeli firms have doubled in size and have regularly been outperforming the wider market. The economy has flourished, international business has taken off and law firms have reaped the rewards. Now they just have to keep up the momentum. Continue reading “A hive of activity”

Time for change

Time for change

With some of the cornerstones of Swiss identity – banking and secrecy – under threat, the country’s law firms are caught up in the maelstrom. LB uncovers how Switzerland’s conservative legal community has been responding to the upheaval.

Switzerland recently encountered its most significant period of economic turmoil, and its lawyers are right on the front line. Although the consequences of the financial backlash were largely kept at bay through government intervention, hitherto unknown banking and investor losses were recorded. Continue reading “Time for change”

Leading ladies

Leading ladies

Positive discrimination for men? Only in Turkey. Legal Business analyses a legal market where female commercial lawyers almost always top the class

The UK’s legal market has never been an easy place for female lawyers. This became abundantly clear in the 2009 LB100, which charts the UK’s top 100 law firms by revenue. Among these firms only 22% of the partners and 17% of the equity partners are female. Given that the overall percentage of female lawyers is 47%, it is hardly encouraging to see that only 37% of those promoted to partner in 2008/09 were women. These statistics do not make good reading for young British female associates, particularly if they are working at one of the Major City or Global Elite firms, where the percentage of female partners is 18% and 16% respectively. Continue reading “Leading ladies”