Chaos theories

Continent’s firms try to find a way through the economic turmoil

The crisis in the eurozone is a major source of uncertainty for businesses across the Continent. But as today’s The Lawyer European 100 report shows, some countries have been vastly more affected by the downturn than others.

The report ranks the top 100 law firms across Europe by 2011 revenue, also looking at key metrics such as leverage and revenue per lawyer. Once again, Spain’s Garrigues, with a turnover of €355.2m (£290m) – up marginally from 2010 – tops the table, followed by French firm Fidal.

It is German firms that dominate overall. A fifth of the top 100 firms are German. When revenue per country is tallied, German firms contributed 19.2 per cent, or
€1.5bn, of the €7.8bn brought in by the European 100 in 2011.

However two jurisdictions, Spain and the Netherlands, punch above their weight in terms of overall contribution to turnover. There are just five Spanish firms in the top 100, but together they made €894m in 2011 – 11.5 per cent of the total. This is despite last year being particularly tough for the Iberian legal market, given the economic woes of Spain and Portugal.

Meanwhile, the six Dutch firms in the top 100 made €853m, 11 per cent of the total, again despite a difficult year, with minimal increases or declines in turnover for all but former Herbert Smith ally Stibbe. Stibbe’s revenue went up from €117.5m to €125m, an exceptional result in last year’s market.

Static turnover is the big story for most of the Continent’s firms, although a question mark remains over the survival of many independents. Just as in the UK,
the mid-tier is feeling the squeeze.