In this month’s Global London special we track the fortunes of the leading international advisers in the City. But are foreign players making progress?
There’s nothing like a bit of schadenfreude when matters go awry and the collapse of Cobbetts as an independent entity has proved no exception. Since it was confirmed that the firm was to become the first major UK practice to fail since the 2010 break-up of its local rival Halliwells, plenty have claimed the end was inevitable and a direct result of over-reach.
Tony Angel and the cute teddy bear next to him greeted me as I found my new desk – a Legal Business cover from 2003 and a personal favourite, a brilliant dissection of Linklaters’ painful reinvention as metric-driven world-beater. I soon dug out other classics, including the 2009 Icarus-themed investigation into pre-collapse Halliwells and the crumpled Hammonds cigarette packet illustrating a 2005 piece on the national player’s strained finances.
With Cobbetts entering into administration, are we likely to see more law firms in trouble this year? Why?/Why not?
Oxymoronic as it sounds, news that Barclays general counsel (GC) Mark Harding is to depart has been received as startling and yet not entirely a surprise. Barclays had been engulfed in a series of escalating controversies in recent years spanning mis-selling, tax advice, and – most damagingly – allegations of rigging institutional interest rates. While there has been no suggestion that Harding or Barclays’ legal team shoulders any blame, incoming chief executive Antony Jenkins has gone out of his way to signal a total break with the culture under predecessor Bob Diamond, who last year stood down as the Libor investigation generated a record fine against the bank.
After a year of significant legal market consolidation in 2012, do you think we will see more mergers involving UK law firms this year? If so, what kind of deals are most likely, and why?
Panel reviews are a cut-throat business these days, even for firms like SNR Denton and Slaughter and May. The duo was recently evicted from the Land Securities legal panel after a year-long review by group general counsel and company secretary Adrian de Souza. It seems not even the big hitters are immune to facing the chop.
Two features this month focus on firms that have dusted themselves down and have come back fighting. For markedly different reasons, both Clifford Chance and Bristows have returned from positions of perceived weakness to enjoy something of a renaissance post-economic crisis.
In 2012 Clifford Chance was one of the stronger performers in a UK Global Elite that has been pretty beleaguered of late. Its performance in the most recent LB100 outstripped its rivals, posting a 7% growth in turnover and a 9% rise in profit per lawyer. But in particular, its corporate practice enjoyed a very strong 2012, topping mergermarket’s M&A tables for deals by value right up until the end of the year until Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom posted a trio of high-value deals in December. Continue reading “All hail the comeback kings”
A lot of firms talk a lot of rubbish about cohesive, collegiate partnerships these days but the competitive spirit within law firms is alive and well. Politicking, back-stabbing and underhand, cut-throat tactics are all employed to help everyone ascend the greasy pole. But there is another way. Snubbing the hard-nosed approach can work: just look at Bristows.
The worst-kept secret in global law finally became official in November. Norton Rose and Fulbright & Jaworski announced their 3,800-lawyer tie-up in June 2013, creating a $1.9bn firm comfortably inside the top ten largest in the world. It’s been a long time coming. We first spoke of merger rumours between the two firms in 2008 and the market has been awash with speculation ever since. Continue reading “Norton Rose Fulbright aims at Global Elite”