It is interesting watching firms having to adapt, embrace change and pivot their business models in the professional services arena currently.  Many of the firms that we work with have had to overcome a series of hurdles and unknowns but many have done it successfully, and rapidly!  

Most of my clients are actually UK based but I do have a few clients scattered around the globe and I have spoken to a raft of firms all over Europe since the start of the current Pandemic.  Not surprisingly, they and their clients are having similar experiences and this was reinforced by an article that landed on my (virtual) desk on Friday outlining some of the responses from European law firms to the crisis.  

The full article can be found here but in summary, the survey of firms such as Aceris Law, Lydian, BG2V, Jeantet, DSM, Brucher ThieItgen & Partners, Gleiss Lutz, Pestalozzi, Nautadutilh and Wildgen found the following:

Behavioural change and teleworking- lawyers have quickly had to adapt to life without going into the office and no face to face contact with clients.  This has led to a quick transition to remote technology, video conferencing and even remote trials.

Digital transformation- most people will have seen the image below doing the rounds on Linkedin whereby COVID-19 is being held up (for some tongue in cheek) as leading digital change within professional services firms.  The article reinforces this viewpoint with a number of the firms suggesting that they have had to purchase laptops and quickly scale the right infrastructure.

Staying virtually close to clients- this is something that all of our clients are doing by empowering their experts and as the survey highlights, European law firms have been extremely present whilst continuously engaging with their clients and prospects through digital communications.  This is even more important at a current time when expert advice is even more sought after.

Cutting through the COVID content cloud- if you check a law firms website, nearly all of them have now added a COVID hub in some shape or form and a number of them have put in place COVID multi disciplinary teams leveraging the expertise of chosen individuals around the firm.  It is those that are giving precise, authentic, timely and valuable advice to their clients that are making the real difference.  Pro bono work, specific Q&A virtual sessions and being accessible are some of the points listed in the survey.

Putting employees first- the industry is very traditional and has always been dictated by the billible hours model however times are seemingly changing with law firms more aware of topics like mental health, flexible working and the gender paygap even before COVID-19 came to light.  Seemingly though, they have been accelerated further up the agenda with the survey reporting that a lightening of the workload for many and even regular virtual drinks and lunches taking place for employees.

In conclusion it would seem that if there is a plus side in all of this for European law firms, it is that they will be more efficient, future proofed and equipped to deal with the 21st century with clients and employees ultimately set to benefit most.