Legal Business

Hogan Lovells was right to get hitched. It needs to remember that.

I’m not a big fan of comparing law firm mergers to marriages. All those torturous metaphors and incongruous imagery. But in assessing the three-year old union between Lovells and Hogan & Hartson, it’s hard to escape the nuptial motif. The deal was forged amid high expectations and a simple analysis: both firms were better off together as neither looked compellingly positioned for an emerging elite of global law. Putting together a transatlantic merger of equals with two large firms that ranked just below the top tier in their respective markets made sense and was arguably a first for the profession.

But, as we address this month, the problem with raising expectations is that you’ve then got to meet them. And on that yardstick the firm has faltered. Three years in Hogan Lovells is still struggling for growth, the gap between its profitability and other global 20 peers remains too wide and the break-through in transactional work is elusive.