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The Growth of the Legal Market in Brussels’ and the Rising Female Stars Behind it

Brussels, located in the northern heart of Belgium, is not only the largest municipality and historical centre of the Brussels-Capital Region, but also a thriving hotspot for legal services, having developed a highly sophisticated and demanding legal market that continues to grow more than ever in 2022.

Legal Market Overview

Despite the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the previous years, the Belgian legal market remains highly active with a clear return to growth, following a severe contraction in 2020 and early 2021. As more and more private equity funds increase their focus on Belgium as fertile ground for buyouts and investments and pre-pandemic trends in debt markets have reasserted themselves in full power, transactions of high-value and importance continue to pass through the offices of law firms operating in Brussels.

Due to the position of principal EU institutions, including the European Commission, the city remains a hub for cross-border competition work with leading firms like Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Clifford Chance, Jones Day, Latham & Watkins as well as Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (among many other top international firms) actively involved in multi-jurisdictional merger clearances, European Commission investigations and litigation before the European Court of Justice.

Moreover, practice areas such as real estate and construction are seen to be growing as a result of an increasing number of both public and private sector players seeking assets alongside investing in the redevelopment of existing property portfolios and infrastructure within the Brussels area.

Similarly as real estate, life sciences and healthcare are seen as a major target for investors, especially in the biotech start-up area, making it a prosperous sector for upcoming Lawyers and firms as well as well established international and local leaders within the field.

Rising Female Stars

Another great aspect to appreciate is the increasing focus on diversity and equality within the legal services market, not only in Brussels, but globally. More and more firms are striving to create a workplace and environment that welcomes all legal professionals regardless of their race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or any other status protected by the laws or regulations within the locations they operate in.

As a woman myself, I find it refreshing to see a growing number of female figures making their way to the top and gaining authority at firms in Europe and globally and, therefore, invite you to celebrate a few of the strong female Lawyers (among many other amazing ladies) recognized as rising stars in Brussels, continuously working towards not only strengthening the legal market in Belgium, but also moving the culture at their firms towards greater equality, diversity and work-life balance:

  • Marijke Spooren – Corporate, M&A, Private Equity and Capital Markets Partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Spooren not only became the first female Partner in Cleary’s Brussels office in 2022, but is also recognized as a skilled and pro-active negotiator, having worked on high complexity matters, even during the pandemic and she is a true inspiration for future generations.

  • Evelien Jamaels - Labor & Employment and Global Mobility Counsel at Crowell & Moring LLP

With companies recovering after the challenges of the pandemic, there is certainly an increase in employment law work and Jamaels has been a leading figure in offering the full range of employment advice, from gender equality reviews to Covid-19 protocols. Alongside the work she does at the firm, she has also been deeply involved in driving well-being and diversity initiatives for staff and clients since joining.

  • Maria Dreher – Antitrust, Competition and Trade Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Dual-based in Brussels and Vienna, Dreher takes an important role assisting European companies transform from traditional industries to new business models. She also heads the ESG group within her practice area and highly supports the role that antitrust rules have to play in ensuring global progress toward Net Zero. Another great role model for the next generation.

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Regardless of your race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability; if you want to put your foot in the legal market of Brussels or are looking for a career change/progression as a Lawyer – please do not hesitate to contact Domante at Domante.Riepsaite@interlinkrecruitment.com

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