Legal Business

Join our club – law firms’ obsession with the in crowd is beyond parody


As I reach my middle years I find much to admire and celebrate about the legal profession, and lawyers in general. This column is not going to be about any of that stuff. Instead, we turn to a facet of the typical lawyer’s character that does them no credit: the obsession with joining a crowd, or rather a club that the lawyer believes says something ego-stroking about them.

Whatever you call a law firm, however factually you try to describe it, that firm will want a different, self-authored tag and often one that stretches credibility. One firm’s comms team has stalked me for years demanding I call a practice that generates less than 15% of its revenue outside the UK, and a good deal of its income from the UK regions, ‘global’. Golden Circle, Silver Circle – when I heard these terms years ago, I figured there was no way they’d catch on. Magic Circle sounds bad enough as it is, but it became currency because it defined a basic truth: as bluechip advisers, five London law firms were in a league of their own by the end of the 1990s. They still are.