Legal Business

Lockstep has to go for Magic Circle to enter new global elite

Conservatism and intransigence are qualities often bemoaned in the legal industry, in many cases beyond their manifestation. But there is one aspect in which the upper reaches of City law have shown a resistance to change verging on the surreal: the desperate embrace of a highly restrictive model of lockstep.

As we argue in our Future of Law special this month, the Magic Circle model is under intense pressure after seven years in which big changes in the industry and global economy have shifted against the group. Under the bonnet, these firms – which are well-run institutions that have been a British success story for very good reasons – have been through substantial restructuring in response. With a better global economy, strong international networks and transactional and contentious activity currently robust – a leaner and more productive big four are positioned for dramatic increases in profitability as their core markets pick up. And 2014/15 should be a very respectable year for the group.