Women deal stars: plenty to celebrate so ditch the understatement

Women deal stars: plenty to celebrate so ditch the understatement

In a blow for traditionalists, our latest cover feature eschews profiling a group of hard-working, smart, highly-confident men who are talented lawyers to instead profile a group of hard-working, smart, variably-confident women who are talented lawyers. Radical stuff.

But then the career cycle for too many ambitious female deal lawyers remains nasty, brutish and short. While women increasingly advance into senior roles in advisory practice areas and even more so among the ranks of senior general counsel, in the upper reaches of transactional law, it is still a boys’ club and anyone claiming differently does not know many corporate lawyers. Continue reading “Women deal stars: plenty to celebrate so ditch the understatement”

Slashing to victory – the most dangerous myth

Slashing to victory – the most dangerous myth

‘Turnover for vanity, profit for sanity.’ How many times have you heard that phrase or variations of the theme espoused in the legal industry? A lot since the banking crisis recast the profession.

Commercial firms are forever chasing the grail of higher profitability to the extent of fashioning strategy around the notion of slashing the business to achieve it. People used to forecast consolidation and the dawn of the $10bn law firm – now it is as common for law firm leaders to talk of City-bred institutions getting smaller. Continue reading “Slashing to victory – the most dangerous myth”

A shock to the system as Freshfields heavyweight departs

A shock to the system as Freshfields heavyweight departs

Given that it has been so well telegraphed that the $10m lateral was coming to the Square Mile, the shock among City peers at the hire of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer private equity veteran David Higgins (pictured) has been, well, shocking. ‘Outrageous’, ‘obscene’ and ‘mildly appalling’ are among the reactions from peers. One hopeful partner at a US firm notes: ‘The clients won’t be impressed with that number splashed all over the news.’

But such sentiments are a naive reading of how the industry is evolving. Yes, if you think of a lateral as wrangling an immediate book of business, such a package suggests needing to preside over $30m within three years to be called a success on a conventional yardstick. That would certainly be a stretch – though not impossible given what some of the strongest City laterals have managed – but that is not the benchmark. Kirkland & Ellis has been stuffed with leveraged finance talent for years while lacking an unquestioned corporate A-lister. The hyper-productive Matthew Elliott delivered that when he joined from Linklaters in 2016, but his practice has a very precise real estate slant. Continue reading “A shock to the system as Freshfields heavyweight departs”

Letter from… Milan: Living in style yet still playing the generation game

Letter from… Milan: Living in style yet still playing the generation game

‘All the top people in this country have grey hair,’ notes one Milan playmaker. It is a truth Italians know all too well: those pulling the strings of the country’s politics and economy are often years past the average European age of retirement. And law is no exception.

The country’s top firms still owe their success to a few veteran rainmakers and their decade-old connections. Individuals like Sergio Erede, Michele Carpinelli and Francesco Gianni, all past 65, still define Italy’s legal market more than 20 years since foreign advisers first arrived in scale. The three largest independents – BonelliErede, Chiomenti and Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners – all generate comfortably over €100m (exact figures must be taken with a pinch of salt).

Continue reading “Letter from… Milan: Living in style yet still playing the generation game”

Deal view: Eversheds deal team – so much promise but so much steady

Deal view: Eversheds deal team – so much promise but so much steady

Newcomers to London quickly learn the rules of the escalator: stand still on the right or keep moving on the left. The risk with changing your mind is you can land flat on your face.

For Eversheds Sutherland, the consensus view is that its corporate team has stood on the right for years, moving along but hardly dashing. And why not? You still get where you are going. Continue reading “Deal view: Eversheds deal team – so much promise but so much steady”

Disputes Eye: Enyo goes to ground – what next for the pioneering disputes shop?

Disputes Eye: Enyo goes to ground – what next for the pioneering disputes shop?

It has been the question raised over wine by many seasoned litigators for months now: what’s going on at Enyo Law? At the beginning of last year, the litigation boutique hit the headlines thanks to surprise merger talks with fellow disputes specialist Stewarts Law, but since the discussion was abandoned the influential outfit has gone to ground.

Formed by ex-Addleshaw Goddard partners Simon Twigden (pictured), Pietro Marino and Michael Green, Enyo was launched in 2010 with a post-Lehman preoccupation of litigating against banks. The concept was simple: pick up the big-ticket work that larger firms were conflicted out of. Continue reading “Disputes Eye: Enyo goes to ground – what next for the pioneering disputes shop?”

The last word: Deals or no deals

The last word: Deals or no deals

2017 ended with surprising confidence in a rebounding market. Here we ask the City’s leading corporate players for their prognosis on 2018

Finding the edge

‘We have come back from the holidays to a whirlwind of deal activity. I’m expecting to see financial investors looking to reduce the competition on deals by pursuing transactions where only a limited number can compete. For example, I expect the large-cap financial investors will look for multibillion-enterprise-value businesses to acquire either on their own or as part of a consortium. Also, financial investors will look to specialise further in certain key sectors so that they can differentiate from their competitors and create that all important auction-winning angle.’
Adrian Maguire, co-head of global financial investors group, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Continue reading “The last word: Deals or no deals”

Forget the Silicon Valley guff – can your firm shift course in 2018?

Forget the Silicon Valley guff – can your firm shift course in 2018?

Well, 2017 promised to be a challenging year and it did not disappoint with its disappointment. With the Brexit vote upsetting an already-delicate balance in key markets, an inconclusive general election in the summer managed to ramp up the uncertainty further.

Overall, deal activity was solid throughout the year but no more, beyond a continued boom in private equity and leveraged finance work. The long term regulatory squeeze on the banking and securities industries continues, with even once apparently unstoppable shops like Goldman Sachs struggling to live up to their reputation. It is hard for partners of my vintage to get their head around the notion that the major banks are not as central clients as they used to be and will likely become less so in future. But they should get over it. Continue reading “Forget the Silicon Valley guff – can your firm shift course in 2018?”

Super growth or decline? Which firm are you?

Super growth or decline? Which firm are you?

Everyone knows the legal industry has been a different place since the banking crisis but it is only when you take the long view that you realise how dramatic these changes have been.

For this month’s cover feature, we looked at three mid-tier law firms that have sustained above-trend growth for ten years. To identify our trio we looked long term at the performance in the LB100, focused on organic growth. Our working assumption was that, while top firms dominated until the credit boom, in relative terms smaller practices excelled over the last ten years. It turned out we had underestimated just how wrenching that post-Lehman shift has been. Continue reading “Super growth or decline? Which firm are you?”

Ditching lockstep – better too late than never?

Ditching lockstep – better too late than never?

‘Lockstep in its current form has to go. It’s just not working.’
Legal Business, June 2015

‘The current incarnation of lockstep is an overly restrictive model that was a child of its time…. The failure to substantively adapt the model… has increasingly threatened to shatter a system that still delivers considerable benefits.’
Legal Business, October 2013

*** Continue reading “Ditching lockstep – better too late than never?”