Comment: So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?

Comment: So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?

The term BigLaw has been around in the US for a while but in recent years this catch-all tag for corporate lawyering in the world’s biggest law market has taken on a decidedly pejorative tone. From the pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to prominent blogs and comments by industry observers, a popular view has taken hold to the effect that the US legal industry – in particular in New York – is a fundamentally broken model in a profession facing terminal decline. Continue reading “Comment: So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?”

So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?

So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?

The term BigLaw has been around in the US for a while but in recent years this catch-all tag for corporate lawyering in the world’s biggest law market has taken on a decidedly pejorative tone. From the pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to prominent blogs and comments by industry observers, a popular view has taken hold to the effect that the US legal industry – in particular in New York – is a fundamentally broken model in a profession facing terminal decline.

Ultimately, this prognosis of doom remains unsatisfying for two reasons. Firstly, some of this analysis is based on attempts to bolt on the narrative of the supposedly humbled Wall Street banks on to Wall Street law firms. For all the parallels between banks and law firms, as much divides as unites them. Law still doesn’t attract risk-takers; law firms don’t need anything like the capital of modern investment banks and they have little ability to create the short-term illusion of profitability that played havoc in the securities industry post-2007. Continue reading “So what’s wrong with BigLaw anyway?”

DAC Beachcroft launches New York base as part of transatlantic alliance

DAC Beachcroft launches New York base as part of transatlantic alliance

Its international expansion has been extensive in recent years but UK insurance firm DAC Beachcroft has complemented its push in the Americas by opening a representative office in New York to build relationships in the US.

Located at One Battery Park Plaza in Manhattan, the new office forms part of a strategic alliance with specialist New York insurance law firm, Abrams Gorelick Friedman & Jacobson (AGF&J), to work more closely together in New York and London to better serve the interests of their insurance clients.

The 1,000-lawyer, top 25 UK firm, which already has a widespread presence in Latin America, says the new Manhattan base, which opened on Monday 20 January, will promote its multi-jurisdictional insurance capabilities, especially in Latin America, and its international commercial litigation and arbitration in North America.

Continue reading “DAC Beachcroft launches New York base as part of transatlantic alliance”

Breaking: Clyde & Co loses 15-strong US litigation team as two London partners exit

Breaking: Clyde & Co loses 15-strong US litigation team as two London partners exit

The expiry of Clyde & Co’s three year post-merger partner lock-in appeared to pass almost unnoticed last April but the top 20 firm has lost two London partners as its established US practice is this month hit with a 15-strong team walk out including three litigation partners.

London commercial partner Alan Meneghetti, who joined the firm five years ago as a legal director and became an aviation partner in 2010, left the firm on 31 December 2013 for Locke Lord’s corporate practice in London. Continue reading “Breaking: Clyde & Co loses 15-strong US litigation team as two London partners exit”

Guest post: West Coast, left field and progressive – a conversation with Facebook’s law firm

Guest post: West Coast, left field and progressive – a conversation with Facebook’s law firm

One of the more unusual reactions I’ve gotten to my book Growth Is Dead came from Kate Fritz, managing partner of Fenwick & West, who I had the chance to talk to recently.

Few lawyers will need an introduction to Fenwick, one of most respected practices in the West Coast of America and a leading adviser in California’s technology scene thanks for work for clients like Facebook, Apple and eBay.

Continue reading “Guest post: West Coast, left field and progressive – a conversation with Facebook’s law firm”

Comment: Forget Dewey – in Wall Street star power is greater than ever

Comment: Forget Dewey – in Wall Street star power is greater than ever

I flew into Manhattan to The New Yorker chronicling the death of Big Law with a pacey dissection of the fall of Dewey & LeBoeuf. Three days later I flew out to The New York Times covering the fee bonanza for Wall Street lawyers generated by J.P. Morgan’s regulatory nightmare.

There you have it – Manhattan’s legal market remains as contradictory and seductive as ever. Eighteen months since Dewey collapsed, it’s not apparent that the world’s largest legal failure has had much impact at all. Certainly, there has been no discernible hard look in the mirror or serious questioning of the elevation of the star system that contributed – combined with a score of other failings – to Dewey’s final chapter.

Continue reading “Comment: Forget Dewey – in Wall Street star power is greater than ever”

OC rocks up in BoHo New York to chase the creative dollar

OC rocks up in BoHo New York to chase the creative dollar

New York’s impenetrable legal community is well used to seeing – and rebuffing – the advances of UK law firms but Osborne Clarke (OC) is attempting a more tactical sashay into downtown Manhattan to cultivate its core TMT client base.

The 500-lawyer UK law firm is today (28 October) officially launching a branch in New York in the city’s creative and digital district of Soho. The unusual venture is the top 30 UK law firm’s second branch in the US following the launch of an outpost in Palo Alto in 2001, which was set up to build links with technology and venture capital clients.

Continue reading “OC rocks up in BoHo New York to chase the creative dollar”

Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in

Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in

Partly thanks to the shale gas energy phenomenon Texas has become one of the most attractive markets in the US and it is little surprise that Dentons yesterday (24 September) announced it is to open in Houston.

Home to energy giants Baker Botts, Vinson & Elkins and Jones Day, the widening draw of Houston was affirmed in 2010 when Latham & Watkins opened an office with the hire of lawyers from Baker Botts and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, including former energy head Michael Dillard. In 2011 Norton Rose was reportedly looking at the region: that ambition was achieved this year with its merger with Houston-founded leading energy firm Fulbright & Jaworski. Continue reading “Texan draw: Dentons opens in Houston as shale gas draws players in”

Hard-wired – meet the ‘tabloid’ lifting the lid on the world’s largest legal market

Hard-wired – meet the ‘tabloid’ lifting the lid on the world’s largest legal market

Since its 2006 launch, irreverent blog Above The Law has built a huge audience and given voice to an increasingly embittered community of US associates and law students. Legal Business reports on the ‘tabloid’ that brought transparency to the world’s largest legal market.

One afternoon in February 2009, the leader of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s corporate and securities practice, Robert Robbins, made a phone call in a train carriage on route from Washington to New York Penn station. Continue reading “Hard-wired – meet the ‘tabloid’ lifting the lid on the world’s largest legal market”

Global London rises – Sullivan & Cromwell signs up Linklaters partner for finance push

After years of conservative City growth, further signs emerge this week of Wall Street’s finest pushing into mainstream UK work with Sullivan & Cromwell recruiting Linklaters banking and restructuring partner Chris Howard.

The high-profile hire will be seen as a significant boost to Sullivan’s English practice in restructuring, distressed M&A and finance. Howard will advise international corporations, banks and financial sponsors on corporate restructurings and financings throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US. Continue reading “Global London rises – Sullivan & Cromwell signs up Linklaters partner for finance push”