General Counsel: D is for decentralisation. Has your business considered it?

In another of our in-house focused articles, Laila Coffey (née Martin) and Till Schöppe-Fries report on the current market trend of decentralisation of international businesses into Europe, and why so many businesses have opted to take their legal support in this direction. 


The world is getting smaller and for many businesses, expanding their legal team into Europe, and elsewhere, away from their traditional headquarters, has been the next logical step in their evolution. In recent years we have seen the continued decentralisation of legal functions, particularly with institutions that are focused on their international growth.  More than ever before, our clients are hiring legal support on the ground in their European hubs and Shilton Sharpe Quarry has been instrumental in this development.  

Following some turbulent years for the world’s economies, recent months have provided some green shoots of market positivity in Europe, particularly across Europe’s key financial centres: the UK and Germany. With positivity returning to these economies, these markets remain strong operational centres for international businesses.  We have seen an increasing trend for international companies, particularly those with US headquarters, to expand their legal support into these European hubs, thus developing a more decentralised model.  

SSQ has been part of this development, assisting companies across a whole range of sectors, including major brands such as Apple, Prudential, Intel and Cameron International, as well as niche sector leaders such as Red Hat, a world leader in open source technologies.  The rationale behind this recruitment was that hiring legal support at a local level, particularly in fast growing regions, assists in the implementation of HQ driven initiatives, increases communication internationally and helps with the management and implementation of regional/jurisdictional regulatory requirements.

In addition to the decentralisation trend, we are also seeing many of our clients looking to hire more lawyers with specialist skills. These recruits include those that specialise in areas such as litigation, data protection, competition, anti-bribery/anti-corruption, IP and IT law. This, along with decentralisation, results in strong specialist legal teams in multiple jurisdictions, which inevitably invariably reduces external legal costs and also allows the business access to niche knowledge on the ground. 

These lawyers invariably understand the local market and the nuances that govern individual jurisdictions, as well as the overall commercial drivers of the business. The law making institutions in Europe have both influence and power across all sectors and with the implementation of regulations such as anti-bribery/anti-corruption (FCPA equivalent) we can only see further demand for these specialist skill-sets in legal departments.

With the in-house market in Europe continually developing and becoming more sophisticated, now is the time to consider the benefits of decentralising your legal team. If you would like to discuss how decentralisation could benefit your business or you would like more information on the European legal market in general, please contact:

Laila Coffey in the UK

Till Schöppe-Fries in Germany



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