The legal industry is still fragmenting. Pre-2008 it was an easier game: a buoyant economy, predictable government and a converging world flattened by globalisation and the internet. Law firms sought to be ‘global’ and ‘full-service’ and merged or opened offices accordingly. The business model was simple: bigger clients, bigger teams, higher utilisation, higher rates. Hold onto more rainmakers than your rivals and the fortifications of a professional monopoly took care of the rest.
What has evolved post-2008 is a buyers’ market that shows no signs of abating. ‘There’s more choice of providers now than ever,’ says Chris Fowler, general counsel (GC) of BT Technology. ‘Alternative providers have a far greater share of wallet. There’s more of them and a wider spread, and then you’ve got the Big Four coming into play. The key thing coming into focus now is choice.’