As the Christmas wind-down approaches inertia, in time-honoured tradition along with ghastly jumpers and inappropriate comments on social media, we signal the closing down of Legal Business HQ with a look back at the stories that made our year.
And what a year. Continuing to deliver on our promise made nearly three years ago to bring harder-hitting content and analysis in the magazine, an effective digital platform and a suite of events that would provide a forum for in-house and private practitioners alike the opportunity to share and exchange views and knowledge, this was Legal Business’ most successful year yet.
We’d like to thank you all for being part of that. Here’s a brief recap of the articles that got everyone talking, taking in Manchester, mergers, management and unintentional alliteration.
A constantly reoccurring theme was the dominance of key US players both at home and eating the lunch of the Magic Circle in the City. This was a key theme of our Global London report, our Global 100 report, and even our look at the private equity and project finance markets in London, where we observed the increasing impact of US firms in those core practice areas.
At the start of the year, we took an in-depth look at one of the key protagonists at the centre of this transatlantic struggle for dominance, Latham & Watkins, posing the question of whether anything can be done to halt the rise of the most upwardly mobile member of the global elite. In ‘The Blessed’, we looked at the renaissance of elite players in the New York market that are gamely resisting challenges from US forces such as Latham and Kirkland & Ellis, as well as Magic Circle firms that have renewed their focus on the US with lockstep-breaking lateral hires in 2015. In The Third Wave, we focused on the high-profile launches by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and Cooley in the City – two more US arrivals looking to disrupt an already turbulent London market. Finally, in The Conservation Game we looked under the bonnet at the three most storied Wall Street firms – Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sullivan & Cromwell to explain their enduring legacies.
The other major theme was management changes and firms on the brink of significant change, none more so than Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. In ‘The last champions‘ we interviewed the firm’s new leadership. Incoming senior partner Edward Braham and co-managing partner Christopher Pugh outline how a new Legal Services Centre in Manchester and a renewed push in the US will help seal the firm’s place in the global elite. Sticking with London’s big four, we interviewed Clifford Chance’s new leader Matthew Layton to ask how a Magic Circle firm can recapture some of its old magic. Another leader filling big shoes is DLA Piper’s co-chief executive Simon Levine. In Simon says, we looked at how new leadership can step out of the shadow of one of the most influential law firm leaders of the last 25 years, Sir Nigel Knowles.
Speaking of 25 years, as part of Legal Business’ anniversary in 2014/15, we took our crystal ball and gave our take on how the legal industry might look come 2040 in Coming Soon. In what is perhaps a sobering and at times outlandish take on the future of Big Law, it’s definitely worth a read as we look ahead to 2016.
We hope readers have enjoyed our coverage over the year. Our blog is taking a short break over the holiday period. Best wishes for Christmas and we’ll see you in the New Year when we’ll have some fresh projects to launch.