There’s good news and bad news for law firms in our first-ever survey of in-house counsel this month. The good news is that clients need their external lawyers now more than ever. The bad news is they’ll need more effort from their firms for the same amount of money.
Over the past few months CMS Cameron McKenna’s managing partner Duncan Weston has been on a charm offensive. Through lunches and presentations, he has been trying to convince the legal press that the European-wide CMS network is not just a disparate alliance, but is in fact one firm, no different to, say, Norton Rose or Squire Sanders.
In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected US president; the Maastricht Treaty was signed and Legal Business published the financial data of 35 firms with revenues over £20m. Over the last 20 years, as the information age has developed, total revenues of the 100 largest law firms based in the UK have swelled from £2.7bn to £17.67bn, outperforming the domestic economy.
When we first published the gross fees of 35 leading firms with revenues over £20m in 1992, we were approaching the peak of the information age: the exponential rise of e-mail, the web and the mobile phone. Suddenly the way we went about our daily lives changed forever and we have rarely looked back. But as technology changed everything over the past two decades, the legal profession has remained a constant.
Ahead of our LB100 report next month, one merger is on the table that requires some hard choices now to be a future success.
Lawrence Graham (LG) has confirmed it is ‘evaluating a merger’ with City rival Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW). The deal would put the new firm comfortably in the top 25 of the LB100 with an expected turnover of over £150m. Continue reading “Tough decisions needed for LG/FFW”
Long live the Verein. The overwhelming majority of firms in this year’s Global 100 report are still single-partnerships, but with seven of the top 100 firms in the world now comprising multiple partnerships, it’s clear that the mantra of ‘one partnership, one firm’ is being challenged.
There is a curious phenomenon that affects both the NHS and, now it seems, the legal sector. The reality gap. Ask a patient treated in hospital for a broken leg what their experience of the doctors and hospital was, and in the main it will be positive. But ask the same person what they think of the NHS on the whole, and usually they will say that the whole system is going to the dogs.
On the face of it, news that Bristol-based TLT is to open simultaneously in Scotland, by acquiring niche firm Anderson Fyfe, and also in Belfast, by hiring a small team of local lawyers, is hardly earth-shattering.
But while the news may be dominated by major international firms’ expansion plans in Asia, or even significant full-scale tie-ups such as McGrigors and Pinsent Masons, you could argue that, relatively speaking, low-key moves such as TLT’s make better strategic sense for all concerned.
As LB was going to press, news emerged that Dewey & LeBoeuf was set to lose its recently acquired London private equity team, which includes two partners and nine associates, to McDermott Will & Emery. So another two partners have jumped ship, bringing the total number of partner exits close to 70 since the turn of the year. It is entirely possible that by the time you read this, further departures will have occurred.
London disputes specialist Stewarts Law was shortlisted for Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in February on the back of an outstanding performance during 2010/11. But with revenues up 42%, a profit margin of 41% and PEP of £890,000, you could be forgiven for wondering why it has now decided to open two offices in the US.