These law firms have shown some of the most creative thinking across Europe over the past year
Netherlands — NautaDutilh
One of the few law firms globally to embrace the engineering methodology of Lean Six Sigma, which standardises and quality-controls products and services. NautaDutilh is also a founder member of Silex, a legal technology consortium designed to ensure lawyers can submit documents digitally to the Dutch courts by January 2017.
Ireland — A&L Goodbody
At the top of the small Irish legal market are half a dozen firms that jostle for position. The best performer among them in the FT’s Innovative Lawyers rankings this year, A&L Goodbody has undergone a three-pronged engagement exercise to audit and articulate its brand identity to graduate recruits, employees and clients.
Spain — Uría Menéndez
One of the top three law firms in Spain, it led its compatriots in the FT Innovative Lawyers rankings this year. Its commitment to create value for clients was demonstrated in its work to give Latin American multinationals access to US capital markets via Spain in a tax-efficient manner. It also showed its skills in speeding up the legal process for companies in dispute with Spanish customs authorities.
Portugal — VdA
(top-ranked European firm outside UK)
VdA continues to innovate in Portugal and abroad. It set up the first forum for in-house lawyers and a crowdfunding platform to support projects in Lisbon. Its recent strategy update is commendable for its inclusivity and the firm has begun groundbreaking research into analysing the assumptions behind the lack of gender diversity in the law. One of its female lawyers, Magda Cocco, is a top 10 individual innovator this year for her work in developing the telecoms and aerospace industries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sweden — Synch Advokat
In an attempt to be a customer-focused firm and an enjoyable place to work, Synch Advokat has moved away from the hourly targets and partner-based structure found in most law firms. Its key performance indicator, for all staff who can share in the firm’s revenues, is customer satisfaction.
Poland — Kochanski Zieba & Partners
Under the guidance of England and Wales-qualified lawyer Adam Piwakowski, the firm decided it needed to think laterally to grow in the face of stiff competition. Its successful “fishing pond” initiative looked to hook clients in countries that were not yet large trading partners of Poland and focus on winning business from them.
Ukraine — Aequo
One of the first firms to provide legal services online in Ukraine and share knowledge in the cloud with clients, Aequo also commissioned a comprehensive survey of the legal market and shared the results with the profession. Although clients did not say innovation was a priority, competition in the Ukrainian legal market is driving Aequo to differentiate itself through formalising its client relationship management. It employed a dedicated client care manager early on.
Romania — Tuca Zbarcea & Asociatii
Besides its fee-earning work, the firm is active in the community, securing a change in the law on domestic violence as well as supporting museums and encouraging responsible sports journalism.
Austria — Wolf Theiss
Tackling the traditional problem of lawyers working in silos in their firms, Wolf Theiss has embarked on a systematic programme to encourage its lawyers to collaborate with each other across practices, offices and generations. Partners are now remunerated for their collaboration quotients.
Italy — Nctm
The firm has taken a leaf out of the art world to help streamline and hone its visual brand. Partner Bernard O’Connor is a top 10 individual in the FT report this year for his work in defending the rights of Turkish Cypriots to produce Hellim cheese.