H&P Partner, Ricky Roy, gives an update on the European private practice market

29th March 2023

With lots of movement within the legal sphere, we sat down with one of our Partners, Ricky Roy, to discuss some recurring trends in the legal sphere as well as the hiring outlook for the rest of 2023.


What are some recurring areas law firms are looking to grow into?

Whilst transactions have slowed down at the start of this calendar year, the general outlook in the market remains positive with many of our clients anticipating that there are ‘still deals to be done’. In particular, private equity, M&A and supporting transactional practices remain key areas of interest for lateral growth.

Ricky Roy, Partner

The interest in contentious areas is slightly more circumstantial, although there has still been a substantial backlog of disputes put on hold over Covid, that has kept a steady stream of work flowing.

Areas of regulatory advice are again more dependent on a firm’s capability but the energy transition, Brexit and the evolution of digital-data dependency are certainly some external factors creating additional business for firms to target.


What is the hiring outlook for most leading law firms?

This calendar year has seen a gradual slow down but this isn’t something to be overly concerned with. The majority of international law firms have recorded historic profits and whilst interest rates are rising, the general feeling is that this is a natural rebalancing of the economy, following the ‘free-money era’. As a result, we’re anticipating that lateral growth hiring will likely continue just at a more sensible rate, as hiring once again becomes more strategic following the Covid flurry of opportunistic hires.


What are several key themes impacting the German / Benelux legal market?

The separation of the CMA and the EU commission as a result of Brexit has stimulated significant Antitrust growth in Brussels. Indeed, since the beginning of 2021, at least 7 US law firms have opened Belgian offices (1).

The Netherlands has benefitted from a wave of SPAC capital markets deals departing the London market and Luxembourg similarly continues to secure its jurisdictional significance for the investment management sector. Even Germany, although impacted by the war in Ukraine, has managed to maintain relative financial stability.


What key things are candidates looking for from their employers when considering a new role?

Certainly, the number of employees pushing for greater flexibility has increased significantly since Covid-19. A global study by consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that 40% of employees said flexibility was a top motivator when considering a move (2). Additionally, it has become common practice for candidates to look for work-from-home and part-time options as part of their package.

At the top end of the market, for candidates willing to meet employer expectations, we’re seeing an intense wage war as firms increase sign-on bonuses and go so far as to make special, one-off signing deals.

There is also a stronger expectation from candidates for firms to focus on improving environmental and social change. There is increased visibility on pro-bono advice and ESG consciousness alongside a notable feeling in the industry to improve gender and racial balance. Overall, 86% of employees prefer to work for companies that care about the same issues they do (3).


What kind of things help attract candidates?

A best-in-class firm or practice offering market leading compensation remains a draw. Then flexibility on employment set up and ‘office time’ is certainly a big swing for an increasing number of candidates. At the same time, being an ethically conscious firm is becoming more and more important for pulling in superior talent. 71% of employees focus on an employer’s sustainability record when searching for a new role (4) and this is likely only going to increase with time.

For more insights regarding the legal market across mainland Europe be sure to contact our Ricky and our German private practice team.