Legal Business Blogs

Q&A: CMS Cameron McKenna managing partner Weston on ‘making sure high quality firms understand what CMS is’

With an election for the top leadership job looming at CMS Cameron McKenna, the firm’s incumbent managing partner Duncan Weston (pictured) talks to Sarah Downey about the firm’s performance, targeting Asia and securing an elusive US merger.

Duncan, how do you feel the firm has financially performed in the last year?

It’s been fantastic. Having a large European piece means we’ve been dealing with exchange rates which is a nuisance but doesn’t have a massive impact. All of our offices in the Middle East and Mexico are profitable and up and running, Turkey has been a success since opening in 2013, our international offering picked up… our challenge is to make sure people understand what our international offering is – we are bigger than Europe.

Is there further international expansion planned?

We’re focused on China, Singapore, and South East Asia. We already have two offices in China but we have a target for Asia to constitute 30% of revenues.

How much do you think client expectations have changed?

There’s clearly a procurement agenda for clients on rates. The number one criteria for clients is quality and value – you’re looking to do segmentation, they’re more concerned to get work done, and if it’s day-to-day that can be divided into different processes. There’s sensible pricing pressure on law firms… its good for them, its second nature for us.

There’s been a lot of market comment surrounding Dentons’ current growth strategy. What’s your take?

Dentons has taken progressive, ambitious steps. It’s a bold move. Good luck to them.

What about your ambitions for a combination in the US?

We continue to raise the profile of the CMS brand and we work with US firms. We won’t do an alliance… we’re in a phase of trying to make sure high quality firms understand what CMS is. The issue for most firms in the UK is, do they step down from the top rank and do a Fulbright merger with a half billion dollar firm with a sector focus or do they continue to cajole? This is assuming white shoe firms are not touchable. The decision hasn’t been made by many firms.

For full analysis of the world’s largest law firms performances, see: Global 100 Overview – Heavyweights