Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star

Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star

Barely into 2020 and news came that probably the most influential business thinker of the last 20 years had passed away. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who died on 23 January at the age of 67, entered the business world and then popular culture with his concept of ‘disruptive innovation’, which was first outlined in 1995. The model came to wider prominence in the 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma and was to grow in stature along with the rise of the US buccaneering technology giants through the 2000s.

As a study of how small upstarts can upend and ultimately crush huge, well-run industry leaders, the book’s ideas spoke to a globalising world economy in which technology and new operating models made it easier for apparently-unrelated industries to collide. Continue reading “Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star”

Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession

Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession

Barely into 2020 and news came that probably the most influential business thinker of the last 20 years had passed away. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who died on 23 January at the age of 67, entered the business world and then popular culture with his concept of ‘disruptive innovation’, which was first outlined in 1995. The model came to wider prominence in the 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma and was to grow in stature along with the rise of the US buccaneering technology giants through the 2000s.

As a study of how small upstarts can upend and ultimately crush huge, well-run industry leaders, the book’s ideas spoke to a globalising world economy in which technology and new operating models made it easier for apparently-unrelated industries to collide. Continue reading “Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession”

Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Ask senior figures in the profession what has materially changed in the legal industry over the last decade and answers will likely include musings on technology, innovation and, for more pragmatic souls, the growth of American law firms in Europe.

Such woolly answers speak to the reality that the law looks much like it did ten years ago. What will not be mentioned, however, is what is rapidly emerging as a force with the potential to profoundly reshape the industry: the dawn of proactive regulation of major law firms. Continue reading “Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law”

Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Ask senior figures in the profession what has materially changed in the legal industry over the last decade and answers will likely include musings on technology, innovation and, for more pragmatic souls, the growth of American law firms in Europe.

Such woolly answers speak to the reality that the law looks much like it did ten years ago. What will not be mentioned, however, is what is rapidly emerging as a force with the potential to profoundly reshape the industry: the dawn of proactive regulation of major law firms. Continue reading “Unheralded comes regulation of City law”

New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through

New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through

For more than a decade now technology and innovation jargon has been pushing its way inelegantly into the legal sphere. But with what result? Certainly, it has led to industrial levels of hype as cloying Silicon Valley-speak took hold in even the most inhospitable arenas. But more to the point for the development of the industry is the endemic confusion it has sown. Without re-treading this month’s cover feature on the substance of law firms’ New Law divisions, it is clear that the industry struggles enormously to articulate these services, both at conventional law firms and pure-play providers.

This explains the widespread confusion in the minds of general counsel about what is on offer and how it differs from Old Law. ‘Platforms’, ‘solutions’, ‘suites’ and an avalanche of weird brand names are present, but as to explaining the products on offer, it is just not cutting through. Continue reading “New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through”

The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze

The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze

It is a measure of how fast-moving the Brexit-dominated landscape now is that imagery in this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) is dominated by Conrad, Castro and Coppola as the summer months have moved to rapidly challenge notions of how Britain works. One of the most stable and predictable major economies in the world has been locked into a mounting political conflict more akin to a banana republic than the Mother of Parliaments. Sooner or later Westminster drama on this scale will spill into a real economy that already contracted in the second quarter.

And yet, the UK’s largest law firms have endured another 12 months of uncertainty and ominous haze with impressive resilience, pushing revenues up 9% to £26.35bn, one of the better years of all-round performance since the banking crisis. And though a handful of mergers flatter that headline figure, 28 firms managed double-digit revenue growth, showing that plenty of UK firms are thriving in these challenging conditions. Continue reading “The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze”

LB100: Legal elite shows resilience amid ominous haze

LB100: Legal elite shows resilience amid ominous haze

It is a measure of how fast-moving the Brexit-dominated landscape now is that imagery in this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) is dominated by Conrad, Castro and Coppola as the summer months have moved to rapidly challenge notions of how Britain works. One of the most stable and predictable major economies in the world has been locked into a mounting political conflict more akin to a banana republic than the Mother of Parliaments. Sooner or later Westminster drama on this scale will spill into a real economy that already contracted in the second quarter.

And yet, the UK’s largest law firms have endured another 12 months of uncertainty and ominous haze with impressive resilience, pushing revenues up 9% to £26.35bn, one of the better years of all-round performance since the banking crisis. And though a handful of mergers flatter that headline figure, 28 firms managed double-digit revenue growth, showing that plenty of UK firms are thriving in these challenging conditions. Continue reading “LB100: Legal elite shows resilience amid ominous haze”

Comment: Profit per equity partner and law’s other enduring hypocrisies

Comment: Profit per equity partner and law’s other enduring hypocrisies

No-one got into journalism to be consistent, the trade typically being more attractive to trouble-makers than those hunting for enduring responsibility. But while hoping that proud tradition continues, in one area the legal media has pushed its licence for hypocrisy that step too far: the debate around law firm profitability.

This over the years has typically resulted in law firms being entreated to do better on all manner of broader concerns one minute… only for the same publications to turn around and berate such institutions for not driving partner profits up to whatever stratospheric figure is deemed appropriate. Don’t bother to send in examples, LB’s done it with the rest. Woe betide the law firms that try to invest or think imaginatively about retaining profits for the middle term. Continue reading “Comment: Profit per equity partner and law’s other enduring hypocrisies”

Profit per partner and other enduring hypocrisies

Profit per partner and other enduring hypocrisies

No-one got into journalism to be consistent, the trade typically being more attractive to trouble-makers than those hunting for enduring responsibility. But while hoping that proud tradition continues, in one area the legal media has pushed its licence for hypocrisy that step too far: the debate around law firm profitability.

This over the years has typically resulted in law firms being entreated to do better on all manner of broader concerns one minute… only for the same publications to turn around and berate such institutions for not driving partner profits up to whatever stratospheric figure is deemed appropriate. Don’t bother to send in examples, LB’s done it with the rest. Woe betide the law firms that try to invest or think imaginatively about retaining profits for the middle term. Continue reading “Profit per partner and other enduring hypocrisies”

The influx of BAME lawyers may yet be squandered

The influx of BAME lawyers may yet be squandered

The good news is that up close the reality turns out to be not as awful as the cynics have feared. After all, for years the profession has avoided a frontal discussion of its record on ethnic diversity, choosing to submerge the topic within the umbrella of diversity and inclusion even as law firms became more intent on selling their progressive credentials.

And in fairness, avoiding that debate has been as much about a general British reticence to tackle issues of race head on with commentators and the media often treading with excessive delicacy in such matters. Still, the end result has been little frank discussion, certainly compared to the increasingly forthright debate on the profession’s record on female representation and retention or tackling social mobility. Continue reading “The influx of BAME lawyers may yet be squandered”