Globally, the legal industry has been hit hard by the uncertainty and upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, and mainland Europe was not an exception. Corporations across Europe contended with the impact of the pandemic alongside fallout from the UK’s exit from the European Union, yet the 2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe report revealed signs of resiliency – and optimism – as the region grows and changes.

Published earlier this month by Thomson Reuters, the report’s key takeaway is that the European legal market is at its highest levels of spend optimism in the last two years. Law firms are looking to make the most of this spending surge, which comes as companies face continued geopolitical uncertainty and encounter an increasing interest in environment, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, including their own role in operating in a sustainable and diverse way.

Against this backdrop, clients’ expectations of their law firms are changing. As law firms help their clients navigate shifts in the legal landscape, firms find themselves under client pressure to operate more efficiently and cost effectively.

In other words, law firms that help their clients meet their own efficiency goals are best positioned to capitalize on the anticipated rise in spend. The report showed three key areas law firms can build on as they look to deliver more value to their clients:

  1. Better understanding of their clients’ business and the industry in which they operate
  2. Providing clients with innovative solutions through technology and other means
  3. Investing in stronger one-on-one relationships with clients – especially between key clients and their most favored lawyers.

Clients highlighted these as focus areas for law firms, and these themes are crucial for leaders of firms and law departments to understand as they make strategic decisions about their future.

Europe remains highly localized, making it challenging to reach common conclusions across each of the individual countries. Still, the report offers an examination of how firms can develop skills in managing relationships and embracing technology, as well as determine which jurisdictions they need to play in in order to holistically support clients’ needs – and to position their firms for success.

To explore the issues facing the European legal market and the implications for law firm and law department leaders, download the 2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe report.