Legal Business Blogs

The Friday edit: Endangered female partners, endangered insurance lawyers and more mergers

Welcome to the second of our new series the Friday Edit in which we take an informal look back at the week’s more interesting events and put a little context on current events in the commercial law game.

Highlight analysis of the week: The Target

For some reason I decided it was a good idea for September’s edition to supplement our LB100 annual results coverage with some more stats on law firms, in this case detailed breakdowns on gender diversity at top 25 UK law firms. The results formed the backbone of a lengthy analysis investigating the rash of announcements by law firms this year of targets for female membership of their partner ranks. The headline finding? These firms are going to have their work cut out to hit these modest targets because gender diversity is actually going backwards at many firms.

For a shorter take, see this blog.

Theme of the week: Insurance cuts keep coming

Theme may be pushing it but the news this week that DAC Beachcroft and Hill Dickinson are both to make substantive job cuts is a reminder that in many sections of the legal market, there remains intense pressure on margins. Despite the robust performances seen from some firms focused on the high-end and international insurance market, at the volume end it’s as hard as ever and there will be more cuts to come. Subscribers can click here for our LB100 coverage of the sector.

Stories of the week: US consolidation continues amid choppy market

In a slower news week, news of the tie-up between US players Edwards Wildman and Locke Lord had the most substance. There is plenty of background to this with Edwards Wildman’s City arm seeing five departures this summer and an expected fresh round to launch the City arm of corporate tech specialist Cooley. With its revenues contracting, Edwards Wildman has moved quickly to try to secure a deal with the upwardly mobile Locke Lord. This dynamic has been echoed on a larger scale with Bingham McCutchen, which it emerged in July had tapped up to four rivals for a merger following a tough 2013.

Closer to home the news at Osborne Clarke is the firm is gearing up to replace well regarded veteran leader Simon Beswick. With the firm posting one of the top performances in the LB100 in 2013/14, the winner will not have an easy act to follow.

Something for the weekend:

Readers wanting to get into the Friday mood with an informal take on future of the law may want to see this Lex interview with Legal Business’s editor in chief. Alternatively, subscribing readers rightly unimpressed by journalists puffing up interviews with themselves, may prefer to relax with a dense set of financial metrics from our annual LB100 tables. I leave the choice to you. But pick me. Also amusing was Norton Rose Fulbright’s defence on a conflicts challenge that their merger wasn’t really a merger, that they were in no way having their cake and eating it and it was all the media’s fault. Law360 and Legal Week have the story.

This week’s top posts:

Comment: LB100 – Statistically speaking, you may not need a bigger boat

OC’s choice – the wheels turn on replacing one of the top 50’s most respected leaders

‘The question is do law firms have the guts to change or just wait for their own giant killer’ – LB’s head talks future of law with Lex 100

Mishcon and Orrick act as BSGR launches $5bn arbitration against Guinea

‘Reports of our demise are much exaggerated’: DAC Beachcroft cuts 62 roles following redundancy consultation