After the party – market slowdown pushes US leaders to take stock in London

After the party – market slowdown pushes US leaders to take stock in London

The easy narrative is that the party is over. After years of rapid expansion by international law firms in London, 2023 saw lawyer headcount at Global London firms inch up by just 1.8% – a figure which appears to provide confirmation that the City interlopers are finally starting to apply the brakes in London as deal volumes dry up.

And that narrative does bear up to scrutiny – to an extent. Last year more than half of the 50 Global London firms saw headcount in the capital flatline or decrease, and across the largest ten, combined headcount fell by 1%, with big firms such as White & Case, Baker McKenzie and Reed Smith all seeing London lawyer count dip. Continue reading “After the party – market slowdown pushes US leaders to take stock in London”

No shoo-ins at the Legal Business Awards, and beware the perils of TL;DR

No shoo-ins at the Legal Business Awards, and beware the perils of TL;DR

Awards season. It should be viewed as a time of joy and anticipation, when law firms clamour to showcase their finest achievements of the last year, whether that’s an especially standout deal or matter, or an extraordinary individual moving the dial for the profession.

Amusingly, one of my colleagues forwarded this message onto me in Teams from a law firm comms person (apparently intent on gaming the system) who will, to save their blushes, remain nameless: ‘Can you ask Nathalie what is an easy category to apply for in the LB Awards?’ Continue reading “No shoo-ins at the Legal Business Awards, and beware the perils of TL;DR”

Global 100: When the music stops – it’s time for the global elite to play a different record

Global 100: When the music stops – it’s time for the global elite to play a different record

It has long been a peccadillo of business publishers to measure financial performance in five-year increments and for this, our final issue of the year, it seems churlish to break with tradition now.

Revisiting our Global 100 coverage from 2018 calls to mind a time capsule, with some of the contents uncannily familiar and others belonging almost to a bygone era. Continue reading “Global 100: When the music stops – it’s time for the global elite to play a different record”

Silence is not golden as Legal Business 100 firms need a different tune

Silence is not golden as Legal Business 100 firms need a different tune

A glance at our Legal Business 100 table this year shows the post-Covid, frothy corporate market conditions have finally come to an end. The significant number of red, downward pointing arrows for profit metrics in particular means the leaders of the top 100 firms by revenue in the UK have reason to be nervous.

The choice of a music chart theme for our report is no accident – this year has seen more movement up and down the table than there has been since the pandemic hit hard. Continue reading “Silence is not golden as Legal Business 100 firms need a different tune”

Paul Weiss’ hire of Kirkland rock star is the shake-up we didn’t know we needed

Paul Weiss’ hire of Kirkland rock star is the shake-up we didn’t know we needed

‘Paul Weiss hasn’t got enough partners in London for doubles ping pong!’ scoffed a senior source at the beginning of August when it emerged that the Wall Street powerhouse had lost its City managing partner, Alvaro Membrillera, to Kirkland & Ellis.

What a difference a few short weeks make. While the political skirmishes inside Kirkland that prompted the exit of private equity star Roger Johnson can only be guessed at – and, ringing around the market, there is no shortage of such rampant speculation – what followed has been nothing short of extraordinary. Continue reading “Paul Weiss’ hire of Kirkland rock star is the shake-up we didn’t know we needed”

A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience

A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience

The most enjoyable part of analysing the proposed merger of Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling has been hearing the reactions of leaders at peer firms to the video featuring senior partners Wim Dejonghe and Adam Hakki.

Hot-takes from around the City have been often amusing. Says one US firm leader: ‘It’s clearly not a merger, is it? It’s a takeover of Shearman by A&O, isn’t it?’ And it certainly does feel like A&O’s Dejonghe is in the driving seat of what is undeniably a slick pitch, even if it does, at times, look like Hakki is in a hostage situation. Continue reading “A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience”

Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince – a lesson in how not to run your law firm

Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince –  a lesson in how not to run your law firm

‘In the event of a recession, the lawyers will be fine. They always are. Unless you work at Ince.’

Reflecting now on this remark made by a senior contact last August, it is clear that the writing has been on the wall for Ince for quite some time and that its parent company, Ince Group, going into administration was probably the only realistic outcome of this sorry saga. Continue reading “Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince – a lesson in how not to run your law firm”

Stopping the bleeding at Travers will require hard-won loyalty and a pay overhaul

Stopping the bleeding at Travers will require hard-won loyalty and a pay overhaul

Looking at the recent wave of departures from Travers Smith brings to mind fears expressed by peers when we last did a major analysis of the firm back in 2019.

Four years ago, harbingers of doom were quick to jump on the perceived threat to such a UK-centric firm amid Britain’s exit from the European Union. Noted one corporate partner at a US firm at the time: ‘If profit starts to fall post-Brexit, what do you do with Paul Dolman? If Paul left, it would be a killer blow. He is talismanic.’ Continue reading “Stopping the bleeding at Travers will require hard-won loyalty and a pay overhaul”

A bonanza year for the Global 100 – is the table about to turn?

A bonanza year for the Global 100 – is the table about to turn?

It is a treacherous business, making market predictions for the year ahead. Too conservative and the pundit is guilty of clinging to the ‘cautiously optimistic’ soundbite, which is the ultimate in fence-sitting and has become one of the most banal phrases in legal industry history. Too adventurous and you run the risk of being over-zealous in predicting market-altering developments.

Of course, it is better to take a stab rather than be accused of being non-committal. Continue reading “A bonanza year for the Global 100 – is the table about to turn?”

Still vulgar to talk about money? Three decades have made the industry less coy

Still vulgar to talk about money? Three decades have made the industry less coy

‘I don’t think you will get any of the City firms to talk about this sort of thing… You have? Well. I am astonished. It is one thing for the Americans and accountants to get into this sort of thing, but not the lawyers.’

‘Anyone who gives you that information will be booted out of the partnership.’ Continue reading “Still vulgar to talk about money? Three decades have made the industry less coy”