Leading European firms have hailed digitisation as the next step forward for the profession on the Continent.
Speaking in a series of video interviews as part of the release of The Lawyer European 100, managing partners from top firms in Germany, Ireland and Sweden have expressed optimism for 2020 and 2021, despite the pandemic.
Luther managing partner Markus Sengpiel said: ‘Due to the existing high degree of digitisation of work at Luther it was possible to work remotely at short notice without any problems. If there was still a need for proof that it’s sensible and necessary to push digitisation further at full speed then it is now clearly on the table – my great hope is the legislators will finally recognise this and take action.”
Gleiss Lutz co-managing partner Michael Arnold noted: ‘The situation has helped accelerate a number of digital initiatives and working from home really works well.’
Noerr managing partner Alexander Ritvay also emphasised the importance of digitising and modernising to European law firms, saying: ‘Coronavirus will bring digitisation of law firms to a breakthrough – it is now paying off for us that we have comprehensively modernised our IT infrastructure and processes in recent years.’
The European 100 report shows a rise of solid five per cent in revenues across the board. Although that seems like a different era, for many firms 2019 nevertheless sets a strong benchmark for recovery. ‘2019 feels like looking back on ancient history, said Vinge managing partner Maria-Pia Hope, ‘but 2019 was a good one for Swedish law firms and we certainly saw both record revenue and PEP on the back of a healthy M&A market.
‘We do believe that M&A will be back when there’s more clarity on the timetable within which countries and business will ease themselves out of lockdown – private equity has a lot of dry powder to spend.’
Bryan Bourke, managing partner of William Fry, said that M&A, equity capital markets, construction and financial regulation kept the firm busy last year.
‘2020 started on a very strong note,’ he said. ‘It’s time to try and open up economies again. I think we’ll see some opportunistic transactions.’
Gleiss Lutz’s Arnold added: ‘We had a very strong year in 2019 and are proud to be included in The Lawyer European 100 list again. Our turnover increased 8 per cent to a new record high, and our start into this year was equally strong.
‘We expect transactions to start picking up once there’s more clarity on the impact of the coronavirus.’