Flying High – The Legal Business Global 100

Flying High – The Legal Business Global 100

How the Global 100 has gone from turning over $71.6bn to $85bn in five years.

The world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, costs $403.9m dollars to buy. Mayer Brown, ranked 22nd in the Global 100, could buy one A380 with a year’s total equity partner profits. The equity partnership at Latham & Watkins and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom could probably do a deal to buy three apiece – they almost earn enough cash.

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In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

How many times do you hear lawyers roll out the line about mergers having to be two-plus-two-makes-five? True in many regards. Getting bigger doesn’t make you better or necessarily solve structural and strategic issues and mergers are hard to pull off effectively.

But when it comes down to it, this truism has become pretty misleading in Law Firm Land 2013.

Because scale does indeed matter in law, all things being equal. Bigger firms have the economies of scale – and these advantages are only getting more important given the continual shift towards smaller and more process-driven panels.

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DISSENT: When the BlackBerrys light up: why firms neglect their culture

DISSENT: When the BlackBerrys light up: why firms neglect their culture

Former SJ Berwin head David Harrel argues that law firms delude themselves when it comes to their own values

The banking crisis and the revelations about mis-selling and Libor fixing, and the failures in the NHS, have highlighted the issues surrounding corporate and organisational culture. It is perhaps not surprising that the newly-formed Financial Conduct Authority has made business culture a particular area of focus. What is perhaps more surprising is that culture was not a central focus before.

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Don’t push your luck with partnership

Don’t push your luck with partnership

Do law firms take partnership for granted? They really shouldn’t as the model has served them so well. Just consider the case. Partnership aligns management and ownership. This has helped large law firms to avoid the patchy governance and rewards-for-mediocrity seen at public companies over the last 20 years and drives partners to a pure form of performance pay. It is inherently long-term and as such has a strong record in promoting independence and ethical standards. And given that law isn’t a capital-intensive trade – at least once you cross the Rubicon of international expansion – partnership is workable (if not ideal) from a financing point of view.

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The ABS dilemma – join them sure, but shouldn’t you be beating them?

The ABS dilemma – join them sure, but shouldn’t you be beating them?

Amid all the hype surrounding alternative business structures (ABS) one story that emerged last month stood out – the aggressively-marketed Riverview Law’s eye-catching alliance with 48-partner practice DMH Stallard.

In an ABS market heavily focused on the high street and volume insurance work, the deal stands out for aiming to provide something different to corporate buyers of legal services.

The firms, which are in discussions about the impending launch of new fixed-fee products, will offer their respective clients each other’s services on a permanent basis, following a four-month trial.

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It’s your profession – accept it, change it but be honest

It’s your profession – accept it, change it but be honest

There are plenty of editors who live on the conference circuit but I’ve never been one of them. Still, I did accept a spot on a recent Georgetown panel discussion hosted at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s London office to talk about the wider issues facing the profession. You know the kind of stuff: recession, diversity, Google Law.

As often happens on these occasions, I was struck by the strong emotions that are triggered if you dispassionately describe how the legal industry works. In this case the trigger was my argument that the law firm model and the tournament of partnership, in pure economic terms, functions perfectly fine while losing large numbers of female associates. Continue reading “It’s your profession – accept it, change it but be honest”

Boring until it isn’t – sharper risk teams deliver commercial edge

Boring until it isn’t – sharper risk teams deliver commercial edge

It wasn’t so long ago that law firm risk teams fought an endless, fruitless battle to get partners and senior management to pay much attention. Traditionally, compliance has been anathema to senior lawyers, who see the box-ticking hordes from their risk teams as an expensive encumbrance to client work. Well, it is pretty boring… until, of course, it isn’t.

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A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

A star signing is one thing but who needs a lateral?

The worlds of business, politics and sport have since the 1970s fallen increasingly under the spell of the star individual and law has been anything but an exception. As partnership mitigates the heaviest excesses of the winner-takes-all compensation cultures seen in banking, sports and plc management, in law the star culture has manifested to a considerable extent via the partner recruitment market.

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