Dimitris Zepos, managing partner of Zepos & Yannopoulos, on what the future holds for the legal market in Greece
The Greek legal market has traditionally been highly fragmented and therefore shallow, with freelance lawyers and small family-owned offices making up the lion’s share of the market. To be fair, small-scale business models have not been a particularity of the Greek legal market, but rather a replicate of the average Greek entrepreneurial model. According to the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, 96% of SMEs employ up to nine people and this includes companies without any employees or with just one.
According to data published by the Greek Authority of Public Revenue, the number of individual lawyers has remained steady since 2019, amounting to approximately 35,000 (34,672 for 2021). According to the same data, the total turnover of legal services in Greece amounted to €940M in 2019, out of which, approximately €470M was generated by individual lawyers. This means that 35,000 individual lawyers generated approximately 50% of the sector’s total turnover in 2019. To put things in perspective this amount is equivalent to the annual turnover of one single international law firm, Bird & Bird, which in 2019 was ranked 100th in the world, based on turnover.
The figures in question have started shifting, indicating that the legal market is moving slowly, yet steadily, towards a more mature way of doing business. In 2021, the number of law firms increased to 1,060, compared to 907, back in 2019. The total turnover of legal services reached €1.4bn, growing by 60% compared to 2019. Out of that figure, approximately €940m of turnover has been generated by law firms, whereas the performance of individual lawyers has remained in the range of €500m. In other words, growth in the sector has been fuelled by the increasing number of law firms and their growth.
Fragmentation of the legal market is also evident when one looks at figures concerning headcount. The ten-largest law firms in Greece, based on headcount, employ approximately 600 lawyers in total, out of the approximately 38,000 active lawyers in the country.
At Zepos & Yannopoulos we have always believed that strength derives from teaming up. With a total team of 118 lawyers, 14 economists and 82 other professionals, we are proud to be within the top 3% of employers in Greece. Consolidating practices and people allows us to adapt to the pace of a constantly changing world, to foster legal talent and encourage innovative thinking, all to the benefit of our clients, our people and the community as a whole.
The legal profession in itself is changing. Firms are called upon to cater to a wide and complex range of comprehensive needs. The question is no longer whether the Greek legal market should change to adjust to this new era, but instead how fast it can do so.
For more information, please contact:
Zepos & Yannopoulos
280 Kifissias Ave. 152 32 Halandri Athens, Greece
T: (+30) 210 69 67 000