New players and funding prompt evolution of disputes but City leaders adapt well

Damien Byrne Hill

‘We’ve disrupted the market – everybody knows about us now,’ says Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan London co-managing partner Ted Greeno of the US firm’s inexorable rise in the City.

The ex-Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner, himself one of a string of high-profile recruits Quinn Emanuel made since its London launch in 2008, has a point. The disputes-only powerhouse now counts some 85 full-time partners and associates in London – a larger team than Slaughter and May’s litigation offering and not far off the size of Clifford Chance (CC)’s muscular City practice (see below). Continue reading “New players and funding prompt evolution of disputes but City leaders adapt well”

The Global 100: The devil you know – The two visions for Freshfields

‘Some of the management are dinosaurs. They don’t understand how important this is.’ So speaks one loyalist Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner of a growing unease shared by some regarding the City giant’s direction.

When Legal Business’ last focus on the 276-year-old institution hit desks in late 2015, the question was how newly-elected senior partner Edward Braham and co-managing partner Chris Pugh would secure the firm’s place in the Global Elite as the challenge from profitable US rivals mounted. Continue reading “The Global 100: The devil you know – The two visions for Freshfields”

Global 100 overview: Escape velocity as the world’s largest firms pick up momentum

Rockets taking off from NY-LON

Compared to the dramatic events that have defined each of the three previous years, 2018/19 was relatively benign for the world’s top 100 law firms. True, the world has been dealing with increasing protectionism, US-China trade wars and the endless saga of the UK-EU divorce. But none of these headwinds were a shock for an industry that three years ago was reeling from the Brexit referendum in the UK and in 2017 from the start of Donald Trump’s presidency in the US.

Last year’s Global 100 report spoke of two milestones, with the global legal elite smashing the $100bn collective revenue barrier and entering the age of the $3bn law firm. Those looking for events of a comparable magnitude this time around will be disappointed. But if the legal industry appeared resilient in summer 2017 and flourishing 12 months later, this year it is nothing short of booming. Collectively, these are the strongest results since the pain of the financial crisis started to be felt ten years ago. Overall revenue for the group grew by 9% to $113.51bn – the fastest rate of growth for a decade; gross profit rose by a healthy 8% to hit $43.44bn – a pace unmatched in ten years. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) also rose by a solid 7% to $1.87m. Continue reading “Global 100 overview: Escape velocity as the world’s largest firms pick up momentum”

Global 100 – Letter from Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley

For reporters used to the profession’s usual cautious pronouncements, it is striking how enthusiastic California lawyers are about the outlook; in the Bay Area you can forget the caveats that still dominate in New York and London. ‘We are in this extraordinary period of extended boom,’ says Cooley’s San Francisco corporate partner Rachel Proffitt. ‘We see equal strength in capital markets and M&A and that’s because there is so much capital. All indicators point to a continued strong year.’

The list of bullish quotes collected in a dozen interviews with the West Coast legal elite is certainly lengthy. Many note the much-touted fact that if the state was a country, California would be the world’s fifth-largest economy (now larger than the UK). It is also America’s most populous state and third-largest by land mass, measuring 770 miles at its longest point. Others simply invite you to drive down the 101 route from San Jose to San Francisco and look around at the offices of the Sunshine State’s corporate titans like eBay, PayPal, Google, Visa, Intel, Oracle, Twitter… the full list of tech giants remaking multiple industries on a global level. Continue reading “Global 100 – Letter from Silicon Valley”

Scotland: Art of the possible

Scotland superhero

Wherever you look, there are women filling legal roles that had previously appeared closed to them in Scotland: Lorna Jack has been chief executive of the Law Society since 2009; Lady Dorrian has been Lord Justice Clerk – the country’s second-most senior judge – since 2016; and Angela Grahame QC has been vice-dean of the Faculty of Advocates for three years, the second woman to hold the role but the first to have been competitively elected to it.

At the same time, practically all the big independent firms are now either led or co-led by a woman, many for the first time in their history. At Brodies, chair Christine O’Neill works alongside managing partner Nick Scott; Burness Paull is co-led by managing partner Tamar Tammes and chair Peter Lawson; while Morton Fraser chair Maggie Moodie manages the firm along with chief executive Chris Harte. Continue reading “Scotland: Art of the possible”