‘It’s a snowball effect. Look at private equity (PE) – that used to be dominated by Clifford Chance (CC), Freshfields and Ashurst but now it’s US firms,’ warns Weil London head Mike Francies. ‘The same hasn’t happened in M&A yet but nearly all of the top US firms here are now trying to build it. In my view, in the same way that a range of top UK firms have fallen behind the Magic Circle, it’s inevitable that the Magic Circle will end up falling behind the US firms for global M&A.’
On the face of it, there’s nothing new about the top US firms’ assault on the City legal market. Having pushed remuneration packages up to eye-watering seven or eight figure sums for the most coveted names, their extensive hiring sprees and growing dominance in areas such as PE and leverage finance have been well documented.