Legal Business Blogs

Strategy review sets expansive course as Mayer Brown aims to galvanise its business

Eight months in the making, Mayer Brown’s revamped international strategy will now see the US law firm re-group around its large international clients and allocate significant resource to providing a more joined up global service in which London is forecast to be key.

The new strategy, put together by the 1,536-lawyer firm’s 12-strong partnership board and eight-member management committee, will see Mayer Brown focus on strengthening its US strongholds in Washington DC, New York and Chicago, as well as its 85-partner London site and Hong Kong office, which now houses 170 lawyers, of which 60 are partners.

With deals increasingly overlapping practice groups, such as litigation and regulatory, Mayer Brown plans to institutionalise its global clients so it can provide a full service to clients like HSBC in the five key regions.

Mayer Brown chairman Paul Theiss, who took over from Herbert Krueger in June last year, said: ‘Our partners around the world who work with the same clients co-ordinate very closely so we can share ideas and understand businesses’ objectives as well as possible. This helps us to meet our clients’ needs. We’ve allocated significant resources to this effort, with the goal of providing increased value.’

London senior partner Sean Connolly said: ‘Client teams are organised on a multi-jurisdictional basis and it is through these teams that we gain a deeper understanding of our clients’ needs and how the firm’s resources can be used to support them.’

Despite repositioning itself over ten years ago, the Chicago-founded firm still suffers from a branding issue and is seen as having made less headway than rivals in breaking away from its US roots.

However, part of the strategy is to grow the London office in key areas, using it as a European hub and increasing its domestic work. Global real estate group head and management committee member Jeremy Clay told Legal Business: ‘This is where we want to evolve as we can leverage our corporate relationships. We are building on strengths – securitisation has always been a strong area for us and we have recently recruited here and in our London real estate team, hiring Martin Wright and Pat Jones.

‘The London office does significant real estate work for us, Asia and other international investors. This joins up with our Germany and Paris teams. We also intend to be a player in our local market, acting for major UK investors and property companies.’

The firm has added eight City partners this year, with Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Trevor Wood and Richard Todd, White & Case’s Mayank Gupta and Allen & Overy’s David O’Connor most recently joining its banking and finance practice. It also plans to bolster its employment and benefits, pensions and arbitration groups.

The top 25 Legal Business Global 100 firm achieved fee income of $1.09bn last year, but Theiss says the ambition is to grow in a controlled manner and to be among the world’s top 10-20 firms.

Theiss reflects: ‘We are over the growing pains. We have passed the hurdle of becoming international, which many firms are trying to do now. There’s been a significant period of change at Mayer Brown as we’ve become a truly international business law firm.’