The Simmons interview: What to worry about

Colin Passmore

Legal Business: Simmons seems to have come out of a period of malaise. What have been the primary drivers for that growth over the last two years?

Jeremy Hoyland, managing partner: Most of that has been driven by the sectors, so [opening in] Ireland is not because we’re interested in the domestic market. We’re interested because it’s an important market for banks and funds. Continue reading “The Simmons interview: What to worry about”

Banking and finance focus: Back to the future

(L-R) Peter Chapman, Emma Matebalavu and Charles Cochrane

‘The truth is no-one’s got the faintest idea what finance practices will look like in the future,’ shrugs Tony Bugg, Linklaters’ head of banking, when asked to describe a top City finance practice in 2030. Of the dozens of London finance chiefs and partners to whom Legal Business posed the question, Bugg’s take is at least one of the more candid.

If the last decade is any guide, the finance world will be girding itself for more wrenching change. The post-banking crisis environment has seen a dramatic increase in regulation and oversight of banks and helped encourage the growth of institutions filling the void as senior lenders retrench. Continue reading “Banking and finance focus: Back to the future”

‘No blueprint’: Looking back at Lehman’s wind-up

Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (LBIE)’s 5,500 employees left the London office at 25 Bank Street on Friday 12 September 2008 expecting to return on Monday morning to their weekly routine. As did their colleagues in the rest of the world.

Not that life had been easy up to that point. Global financial turmoil had been going for around a year and Lehman had just posted a $3.9bn third-quarter loss amid the subprime mortgage crisis. Yet, the sense was that the bank founded in 1850 would be bought out by either Barclays or Bank of America, despite the US government’s resistance to bailing it out. Continue reading “‘No blueprint’: Looking back at Lehman’s wind-up”

The GC (re)defined: Beyond the cookie cutter

Angelique de Lafontaine

What is it like to work as a lawyer in a fast-paced, risk-laden, tech-driven ‘disruptive’ company? How do general counsel (GCs) find the right level of resource in a company where legal is viewed as anathema to impatient entrepreneurs? When is a lawyer not a lawyer?

These are the questions we put to senior in-house figures we gathered from a broad range of early-stage or fast-moving, disruptive companies in our round table with Morrison & Foerster. Continue reading “The GC (re)defined: Beyond the cookie cutter”

No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?

Dangling carrot

For years it could, just about, be ignored. But no longer. The UK’s largest practices are being forced to consider a seductive, provocative, explosive question that strikes right to the heart of a law firm and what it means to be a professional: have they considered an initial public offering (IPO)?

By now, of course, at some level they all have, if only to construct a stock (no pun) rebuttal of the case for capital. But despite public dismissal by the leadership of the majority of top-25 UK firms, under the surface there is far more curiosity in this year’s string of legal floats. Continue reading “No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?”

The Global 100 debate – Will stars or institutions define the law’s elite?

David Higgins et al

Alex Novarese, Legal Business: Ten years ahead, what will a global elite firm look like?

Charlie Jacobs, Linklaters: I don’t think it’s going to go the accountancy way, where you just go bigger and the Big Four dominate. A lot of focus seems to be around profitability and if you are driven by that metric, you get a certain type of firm. When I started, it was the Magic Circle in London and a certain category of US firms. We have seen lots of change. But I don’t see just one model prevailing. Continue reading “The Global 100 debate – Will stars or institutions define the law’s elite?”

The technology debate: Ctrl+Alt+Delete

Karyn Harty

With alternative legal services arms at Global 100 law firms in full swing, and innovation and technology experts striving to make those firms relevant and responsive to the demands of increasingly value-conscious clients, it is fair to say the future is now.

But the traditional role of the lawyer is perhaps facing its biggest existential crisis now as those new demands challenge what legal practice means today. Will the lawyer of 2030 render the celebrated black-letter technicians and swashbuckling dealmakers obsolete? Continue reading “The technology debate: Ctrl+Alt+Delete”

Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields

New York fortress at sea

Nathalie Tidman looks at the struggle for the City elite as US players dominate home and away

‘People like me, making the switch from the Magic Circle to a US firm – a Kirkland, a Latham, a White & Case – did so because being a powerhouse in the US is critical to becoming a truly global law firm.’ Continue reading “Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields”

Law firm tech: Turning the lights on

Working in a lightbulb

What do the individuals responsible for putting together the tech behind Lady Gaga’s concerts, a creative executive of ER and the developer of Reuters’ first-ever online financial products have in common? All three reinvented themselves as tech experts at top UK law firms. And you would be forgiven for wondering why on earth someone would make such a move.

‘Law has traditionally not been perceived as the place to find creative and innovative people,’ concedes Andrew Mcmanus, who was IT director at live events business The NEC Group before joining Eversheds in 2014. ‘But I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.’ Continue reading “Law firm tech: Turning the lights on”