Skip to content
Thomson Reuters
Law firms

New report shows growth amid change for region – 2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe

Image Credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The Thomson Reuters Institute’s annual ‘2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe’ report shows that law firms in the region were able to grow despite a year of dramatic change.

Without a doubt, the past 18 months have been characterised by uncertainty and upheaval around the globe and throughout many industries, including the legal market. Across Europe, like elsewhere, corporations have faced unprecedented change due to the global pandemic — even as they dealt with their own unique challenges, such as the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Download a full copy of the Thomson Reuters Institute’s annual ‘2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe’ report

Adding to that, the outside legal service providers and their corporate clients are facing continued geopolitical uncertainty and a rise in conversations around environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues. These factors contribute to corporate clients’ expectations of their law firms to shift.

Into this mix, the Thomson Reuters Institute has published its annual 2021 State of the Legal Market in Europe report, based on analysis conducted on proprietary primary research that included interviews with more than 500 senior corporate counsel across Continental Europe and 478 private practice lawyers who had been identified as stand-out lawyers by their clients. The report explores the issues that unfolded in the European legal market and the implications for those law firm and law department leaders looking to make the right strategic decisions in 2021 and beyond.

Key takeaways

Despite this change and uncertainty, the report shows that the European legal market currently is at its highest levels of optimism around legal spend of the last two years. As general counsel once again realise their companies’ reliance on the wider legal industry to help them navigate these challenging times, law firms and other legal service providers now are looking to capture this expected spending surge. However, firms are also finding themselves under more client pressure than ever before to be efficient and cost-effective.

The report also shows that while it’s true that Europe overall remains highly localised, making it difficult to identify common conclusions across each of the individual countries, there were several key trends that did emerge in the research, including:

Relationships: The tumult of the global pandemic has meant a resurgence in the importance of relationships with individuals, especially between key clients and their most favoured lawyers. Of utmost importance is how those individuals have been able to work together to deliver holistic legal service across borders and practice areas.

Innovation: The impact that new technology and innovation will have on the delivery of legal services cannot be overstated. Additionally, these developments will elevate the importance of certain individual skills that clients now say they are looking for in their legal partners, particularly in a world where hybrid working patterns are becoming more the norm.

Business savvy: There may be nothing that clients have sought from their outside legal counsel that is more important to them than to have counsel that demonstrate a strong understanding of clients’ businesses and industries. Again, most importantly, clients say they want counsel that can leverage their specialty knowledge to provide proactive and pragmatic solutions for clients’ business challenges.


How to simplify M&A due diligence and smooth out transaction management AI’s impact on law firms of every size Level up M&A due diligence reviews with HighQ and Document Intelligence Automating the client experience: Is your firm keeping up? Enhancing client relationships with secure data privacy and security practices How law firms can use generative AI intelligently HighQ provides legal professionals with the best value – and here’s proof Getting ahead in the UK legal market: Expert tips and strategies for law firms Brexit Freedoms Bill: What law firms should know Could optimising this one process be the key to increased client satisfaction?