For a wealth of inside information relating to Chambers Europe, check out my interview with the Editor, Georgia Brooks. I caught up with Georgia recently to discuss changes to this year’s book, and tips for how to engage with the research process.
Are you planning any changes to the structure of the book this year? Any new practice areas/changes in approach the market needs to be aware of?
Firstly, the 2014 Chambers Europe guide will look very different to previous editions. We have greatly changed the editorial layout, to highlight a team’s key strengths as well as its main areas of activities. Extended information, such as basic facts about the department and additional work highlights, will also be available on our website: http://www.chambersandpartners.com/guide/europe/7
This year we have added an unprecedented number of new practice areas at both a country level and in the Europe-wide chapter. Energy has been a key area of law for multiple jurisdictions, and we researched it for the first time in Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. At a Europe-wide level we have seen an increase in internal investigations and regulatory work, so added two new sections to cover these: Corporate Investigations and Regulatory & Public Affairs. Data Protection is another growing area of focus across Europe, and that too has been introduced in the Europe-wide section.
Lastly, we conducted more regional research and added separate Central & Eastern Europe sections in Banking & Finance, Corporate/M&A and Dispute Resolution. We also introduced a Baltic-wide Corporate/Commercial section to highlight firms active in that region. At a country level, we also added France Regions and Russia Regions sections; which will highlight firms who are active outside of the capital.
European firms have been submitting to Chambers for more than 20 years. What are some of the things firms continue to get wrong with their submissions?
The key aspect that firms continue to get wrong, or rather miss completely, is to explain why a work highlight is important and explain the specific role the team played. It definitely helps to summarise the matter – concisely! – and put it into context. Also feel free to send us additional information from local news sources, where relevant.
Furthermore, a lot of firms only highlight on the top-value deals, whereas it helps to show a breadth of expertise. It’s a good idea to explain all the strengths of the team, then use the ten work matters as an illustration.
Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, but missing the deadline is a big no-no!
What’s your advice on how firms with plenty of lawyers ranked in a section should get more lawyers on the list?
I advise taking a two-pronged approach; first, make sure that you highlight the lawyers you want to see ranked in the submission. There is space on the submission form to include key names, and it’s also crucial that their work highlights are also listed, so we can see what work they have handled. Secondly, put forward client referees who can talk about the team as a whole and a range of individuals. Of course make sure that the client is happy and willing to speak to us – this makes such a difference!
Tell me about your research team – is it the same team as last year, or will there be any new faces?
We do have a few new faces to the team, which is natural in such a large research team. However, the greatest change has been with the deputy editors; we promoted four individuals towards the end of 2013. All four were extremely experienced researchers, and one (Lucy Craig) was previously the assistant editor for Germany. I’m sure many firms will recognise them from their time as researchers. Here they are below as well as the list of jurisdictions they oversee:
Francesca Lean – France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain
Katherine Yu – the Baltic and Nordic regions, Poland, Russia and Ukraine
Lucy Craig – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland
William Robertson – Central and South East Europe, plus Turkey.
If firms have any queries about the research it’s best to come to me and the deputy editor for the relevant country.
When recruiting, how much weight do you place on native/fluent speakers of foreign languages?
Being able to speak to clients and lawyers in their native tongue is extremely useful, and in some jurisdictions absolutely crucial! On the current Europe team our researchers speak over ten different languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Greek, Hungarian and Russian. Foreign languages are a very important part of the research and thus the recruiting process.
For any new researchers, what steps do you take before research starts to educate them a little, to make sure they are not coming to it completely cold?
For most of February and March the deputy editors, assistant editors and myself interview managing partners from firms across Europe. It is a great time for the managing partners to tell us about key market developments as well as changes at their own firm. We use the information we gather to better allocate our resources throughout the year, and of course pass this knowledge onto the researcher before research starts. Thus, researchers know in advance what has been happening in the market as well as new practice areas or firms to ask about.
What are your thoughts on allocating experienced researchers to the same sections as they covered in previous years. Good idea or bad idea?
For the Europe team, the most important element in assigning researchers is language. Thus for jurisdictions where speaking the native language is crucial, such as France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Italy, then it is obviously a good idea to have the same researcher cover the jurisdiction. That said, a fresh pair of eyes can offer a different perspective, not to mention a different research experience. At a deputy and editor level then we try to keep consistency, as we are the ones ultimately evaluating the research. You will notice that the deputy editors are responsible for a region, which gives them expert knowledge of various jurisdictions as well as an understanding of how those countries often work together.
Any plans for the researchers to travel to meet with firms face-to-face? It’s something that firms appreciate in relation to at least one of your close rival publications…
I and the deputy editors frequently meet with firms when they come to London. It is definitely useful to hold face-to-face meetings, as it enhances our knowledge of the firm and likewise allows us to explain more about the research process. I am also quite fortunate in that I can travel to meet firms on occasion e.g. in the last year I visited firms in Turkey, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Germany and Ukraine. As much as we would all like to be travelling across Europe, we find that we can conduct more thorough research from our base in London. You may find that surprising but the researchers couldn’t travel with the database in tow, nor would they have the wealth of material that we have in the office.
Are there any other Europe-focused initiatives you’re planning for the coming year?
For the 2015 guide we are expanding our regional coverage even further by introducing a CIS Corporate/Commercial section. At a Europe-wide level we will research Real Estate for the first time, while in the Central & Eastern Europe section we will add Dispute Resolution. Compliance has been the buzzword for a while now, and we are introducing the section in Germany. The Germany chapter will also see new Commercial Contracts and Transportation sections.
Another key initiative that we are focusing on is to develop the mid-market coverage, such as Corporate/M&A sections divided into High-End Capability and Mid-Market. This is currently in place for France and Germany, and I imagine this will only grow. Indeed, we are seeing increased engagement from firms active at this level as well as interest from clients.
Research for the 2015 guide starts in March and the first submission deadline was 24 February. However, we are still accepting submissions so firms should check the online schedule for further information: http://www.chambersandpartners.com/secure/research-schedule