‘Geography seduced everyone’ – is emerging market bias blind-siding your firm?

‘Geography seduced everyone’ – is emerging market bias blind-siding your firm?

There is a notion in business that is often useful, but rarely observed – the idea of signal and noise, or rather being able to distinguish between the two. The not-remotely-new point I’m making – well illustrated in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s not-remotely-new book, Fooled by Randomness – is that in making informed decisions, leaders should endeavour to shut out the ‘noise’ of short-term, rapidly changing information, which is typically near worthless. Instead they should focus on the longer-term, underlying trend, which can be worth a great deal if you can find it.

Such thoughts occurred while reading a recent piece in The Economist that tackles one of the dominant concepts in business over the last two decades – arguably the dominant idea – that western businesses must focus their growth and investment in key emerging economies. As the article ‘Emerge, splurge, purge’ notes, so prevalent has become this orthodoxy that it has escaped any real debate: ‘Corporate strategy is usually a contentious subject: there are fierce debates about how big, diversified or leveraged firms should be. But geography has seduced everyone.’

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A truly global City and the fiercest contest in law

A truly global City and the fiercest contest in law

So much for the humbling of the City. Our annual Global London special finds that the number of lawyers employed at the top 50 foreign firms in the Square Mile has finally and comfortably broken its 2008 high, with over 4,500 lawyers working across the group after a 6% hike in numbers.

And in the post-Lehman world, London is now less about grand schemes and expensive investment – these offices are often profitable in their own right. The top ten largest City offices of US-bred parents collectively generated over £1bn in fees last year and have made 34 lateral hires since last February. Continue reading “A truly global City and the fiercest contest in law”

Democracy and half measures are not delivering for Addleshaws

Democracy and half measures are not delivering for Addleshaws

I wrote recently of the need, when commenting on the firms and individual lawyers we cover, to give the benefit of the doubt, and I meant it, but sometimes it’s hard to find that silver lining or constructive slant. Addleshaw Goddard, unfortunately, has become a case in point.

Recent years have seen materially below-trend financial performance, indications of tension between its City arm and northern offices and an international strategy that looked just too little, too late. Perhaps more damaging has been the uncertain tone that has emanated from Addleshaws about where it sits in the market and wants to go.

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The last word – American hustle

The last word – American hustle

In this month’s Global London special we report on the advances made by US firms in London, particularly in litigation. Senior players in London give their perspective.


GO WEST

‘Although Magic Circle firms have offices in the US, they haven’t penetrated the biggest legal market in the world. Those firms haven’t got past a couple of cities on the East Coast – that doesn’t cut it in the US. There’s a lot of litigation in the US and those firms don’t have the same amount of coverage.’

Craig Shuttleworth, partner, Jones Day

 

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One year on: enjoying it so much I hope I don’t mess it up

One year on: enjoying it so much I hope I don’t mess it up

‘So, are you enjoying it?’ I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been asked the question since joining Legal Business last February.

The question makes me feel awkward because I’m not a positive person. I try to be but I know I’m not. But the honest answer as I pass the one-year mark is: ‘Yes, I’ve enjoyed it. So much actually that the gloomy part of myself keeps waiting for it to go wrong.’ I know of no better measure than that.

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American without tears – succession planning at the increasingly transatlantic DLA Piper

American without tears – succession planning at the increasingly transatlantic DLA Piper

So the experiment ends as a qualified success. News of the early-timed succession planning at DLA Piper confirmed that well-regarded IP and technology partner Simon Levine is to assume Nigel Knowles’ role as co-chief executive, with Knowles next year taking on the role of co-chair in place of Tony Angel.

Angel, of course, had been recruited two and a half years ago to sharpen up DLA Piper’s governance, financial management and improve links with its US business. Recruiting the former Linklaters managing partner was pretty much unprecedented in the profession in terms of hiring a c-suite executive from one major firm to another, and very different institutions at that. The official message was that Knowles had spontaneously pressed his old mate to join Team DLA. There was a degree of spin in that. While the pair had long been friendly, there was pressure from the US – which had grown weary over a series of missteps in Europe and the Middle East – for Angel’s appointment. Continue reading “American without tears – succession planning at the increasingly transatlantic DLA Piper”

Ambition and culture – the key tests CC’s deal team must pass

Ambition and culture – the key tests CC’s deal team must pass

First, the case for the defence. Given that private equity partners gossip like fishwives, you can be somewhat sceptical over the received wisdom that the latest in a line of significant departures from Clifford Chance (CC)’s buyout team represents a terminal decline.

The firm retains a sizeable roster of partners, with 11 covering private equity in the City, including seasoned players such as David Pearson and Jonny Myers, not to mention practice head Oliver Felsenstein, one of Germany’s most respected PE men (CC should, however, avoid mentioning Matthew Layton in this camp – good as he is, it’s embarrassing to invoke your new chief executive as a deal runner).

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DISSENT: The road to equity – a difficult journey, an uncertain destination

DISSENT: The road to equity – a difficult journey, an uncertain destination

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s James Tsolakis argues the profession must accept a fundamental challenge to its traditional model

The legal profession is going through a period of dramatic and profound change, and the forces driving these changes are having far-reaching consequences on the industry. The roles and responsibilities of the equity partner are not immune from these forces, and are evolving and expanding in response. For many this is creating great ambiguity, while others are seizing the opportunity.

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The Last Word – English Law

The Last Word – English Law

With the popularity of English law a key issue in the global legal market, we ask partners for their take on the exportability of UK law and how it stacks up against New York law.

Early adoption

‘Where parties adopt a law other than their own and look for a law with application for an international contract, English law is popular by quite some margin followed by New York law. It’s particularly increasing in use in South America. One important aspect of that is the role of the Commercial Court in London in continuing to develop and adapt the law to changing circumstances.

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Structural or cyclical change in the law? 2014 should answer the big question

Structural or cyclical change in the law? 2014 should answer the big question

It’s been obvious that something fundamental happened to the world economy during 2008, ushering in the worst relative trading conditions since the 1930s. It is, likewise, demonstrable that this shift has had a material impact on the legal profession in terms of reduced growth prospects, changing corporate buying habits and pressure on the conventional model of law.

The point that has yet to be resolved – and which has huge significance to the western legal industry – is whether that change represents a permanent structural shift underwritten by technology and the rise of non-law firm providers, or a severe cyclical depression from which the profession will in time recover. Continue reading “Structural or cyclical change in the law? 2014 should answer the big question”