Legal Business Blogs

The Friday Edit: Glory days for HSF obsessives and Baker Mac to phase out last legacy of franchise pay

Somehow the week has flown by so it’s already time to welcome readers to The Friday Edit, our informal take on the notable legal events that happened since Monday. For subscriber content, click here for full access to Legal Business or email ‘’ for more information.

Analysis of the week: Consumed

November’s cover feature – Consumed – is an in-depth assessment of the background, fortunes and fall-out of the high-stakes 2012 union of storied City firm Herbert Smith with Australian leader Freehills. Covering the unhappy run-up to the deal as Herbert Smith’s City deal team buckled in the wake of the banking crisis and the firm was beset by strategic indecision and performance problems, the tense debate over the merger, the subsequent fallout and attempts to galvanize a global power, we find a finely balanced equilibrium. The deal remains somewhat divisive with strong arguments in its favour and for Herbert Smith to have gone on alone. However, the combined firm has so far weathered a very substantial run of departures with considerable resilience. Much of the union’s prospects still rest on if the legacy firms can bridge very different cultures and effectively reboot Herbert Smith’s partnership in more pro-active form – a huge task that the firm has only begun.

Further highlighting the sensitivities over the firm’s post-merger direction, HSF is this week deciding on the new senior partner to replace Jonathan Scott in what will be a key decision in defining its future. Subscribers can see Consumed – Can burning ambition from Down Under recast Herbert Smith for the global stage? This open access comment The cost of culture draws some further conclusions.

Stories of the week: More HSF and Bakers extends its globalised partner pay model

While our HSF-related coverage dominated our website this week, including this report on its senior partner election and a significant departure today (7 November) of Asia head Mark Johnson, Legal Business this week published news of a major shake-up of partnership at Baker & McKenzie, which will see the global giant emphasise region-wide remuneration over office-based pay. The delicate move reflects the 15-year march of the Chicago-bred institution to forge what was once a loose network into a closely aligned global force. However, this will need to be managed carefully to avoid disenfranchising more profitable offices such as London. Also widely read on Legal Business’s website this week was news of Hogan Lovells’ plans to implement its own low-cost hub in Birmingham.

Quotes of the week:

‘I want to make clear that Linklaters is committed to real estate. We have been misunderstood.’

Linklaters’ Andy Bruce pledges that Silk Street is still the home of proper real estate lawyers, Back in the Game

‘The US government and the British government made some very good decisions in the days immediately after Lehman. And people have since rather taken those calls for granted – it did not work out as badly as it looked like it would. As a City lawyer, you had a ringside seat when there were pretty hairy moments in 2008 and they fixed it.’

Hogan Lovells’ Matthew Cottis offers a banking veteran’s perspective on the politics of bailouts, Life During Law

‘We are so much stronger than we were five years ago. The world is more competitive and you’ve got to have a group of people who want to compete. I am competitive. If we don’t win a bit of work, that’s fine, as long as we did our best to do it. If we don’t try our hardest and we lose, it drives me completely up the wall.’

Herbert Smith Freehills’ James Palmer puts the case for a more proactive post-merger HSF, Consumed

Top posts:

Consumed – Can burning ambition from Down Under recast Herbert Smith for the global stage?

One man one vote‘: HSF set to vote for new senior partner as Jonathan Scott decides to step down early

Comment: The cost of culture – HSF finds mega-mergers always come at a price

‘We will continue to review and innovate in this area’: Baker & McKenzie overhauls pay structure in Europe and Asia

Nearshoring: Hogan Lovells hires ten-strong associate team and acquires new office space for Birmingham venture