Comment: Weil Gotshal and the narrative of the New Normal

Comment: Weil Gotshal and the narrative of the New Normal

Whatever the business case for announcing significant down-sizing, there is no doubt that in the field of modern communications Weil Gotshal & Manges scored a significant victory last week in its handling of job cuts.

Confirming its move to cut around 170 staff on 24 June and lower the compensation of 30 partners, Weil was joined up, transparent and eloquent, with executive partner Barry Wolf (pictured) on hand to put a jargon-lite case for its actions. The expected loss of 60 associates is equivalent to roughly 7% of Weil’s associate base. Continue reading “Comment: Weil Gotshal and the narrative of the New Normal”

Comment: In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

Comment: In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

How many times do you hear lawyers roll out the line about mergers having to be two-plus-two-makes-five? True in many regards. Getting bigger doesn’t make you better or necessarily solve structural and strategic issues and mergers are hard to pull off effectively.

But when it comes down to it, this truism has become pretty misleading in Law Firm Land 2013.

Because scale does indeed matter in law, all things being equal. Bigger firms have the economies of scale – and these advantages are only getting more important given the continual shift towards smaller and more process-driven panels. Continue reading “Comment: In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two”

In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two

How many times do you hear lawyers roll out the line about mergers having to be two-plus-two-makes-five? True in many regards. Getting bigger doesn’t make you better or necessarily solve structural and strategic issues and mergers are hard to pull off effectively.

But when it comes down to it, this truism has become pretty misleading in Law Firm Land 2013.

Because scale does indeed matter in law, all things being equal. Bigger firms have the economies of scale – and these advantages are only getting more important given the continual shift towards smaller and more process-driven panels.

Continue reading “In defence of big – the maths are favouring two + two”

Don’t push your luck with partnership

Don’t push your luck with partnership

Do law firms take partnership for granted? They really shouldn’t as the model has served them so well. Just consider the case. Partnership aligns management and ownership. This has helped large law firms to avoid the patchy governance and rewards-for-mediocrity seen at public companies over the last 20 years and drives partners to a pure form of performance pay. It is inherently long-term and as such has a strong record in promoting independence and ethical standards. And given that law isn’t a capital-intensive trade – at least once you cross the Rubicon of international expansion – partnership is workable (if not ideal) from a financing point of view.

Continue reading “Don’t push your luck with partnership”

Disputes revival has huge implications for City law

Disputes revival has huge implications for City law

A few years ago – during what in retrospect turned out to be a boom – you knew where you stood with City law. The market kept growing and, while the man in the street associated lawyers with courts and disputes, those in the industry knew success came from the other side of the equation. In short, you made the real money from deal-doing and associated disciplines, not the contentious side of practice.

Continue reading “Disputes revival has huge implications for City law”

Converging in on an end game for Global London

Converging in on an end game for Global London

Remember convergence? In the 1990s’ tech boom the concept was all the rage. It was the simple idea that rapidly-advancing communications would see once-discrete platforms and information systems like TV, the printed word and telephones merge and dynamically share data in an economically seismic fashion.

What happened next says a lot about human nature, business and the whimsy of prediction. The internet bubble burst and such utopian visions were suddenly crazy. One received wisdom replaced another. Except convergence was one of the most accurate forecasts ever made about industry – it just took technology another three years to catch up with the hype. The fundamentals prevailed.

Continue reading “Converging in on an end game for Global London”

Cobbetts gets burned but that’s business

There’s nothing like a bit of schadenfreude when matters go awry and the collapse of Cobbetts as an independent entity has proved no exception. Since it was confirmed that the firm was to become the first major UK practice to fail since the 2010 break-up of its local rival Halliwells, plenty have claimed the end was inevitable and a direct result of over-reach.

Continue reading “Cobbetts gets burned but that’s business”

Twenty years on and the numbers still add up

Twenty years on and the numbers still add up

In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected US president; the Maastricht Treaty was signed and Legal Business published the financial data of 35 firms with revenues over £20m. Over the last 20 years, as the information age has developed, total revenues of the 100 largest law firms based in the UK have swelled from £2.7bn to £17.67bn, outperforming the domestic economy.

Continue reading “Twenty years on and the numbers still add up”