‘Kirkland is a raw, Darwinian force’ – LB’s take on the pre-Brexit City law market

‘Kirkland is a raw, Darwinian force’ – LB’s take on the pre-Brexit City law market

On occasion, they let the head of Legal Business take a break from the glamorous job of proofing features to go meet and greet. One such occasion saw me last month pop along to a major UK firm’s partnership conference to provide the LB perspective on the funny old game we call law.

Below is an edited version of my notes, jotted down to help organise my thoughts in response to the outline questions ahead of the event. Obviously, I wasn’t reading my notes during a two-way discussion, so I often rambled on about other stuff – I vaguely recall a monologue about the ‘Napoleon phase’ of managing partners that go on too long before going crazy. But for LB readers, these notes represent a decent summary of our current view of the industry at a particularly turbulent moment. I’ve removed all identifying references to the firm generous enough to host me. Continue reading “‘Kirkland is a raw, Darwinian force’ – LB’s take on the pre-Brexit City law market”

‘An incredible opportunity’: DWF flexes New Law arm with BT managed services contract

‘An incredible opportunity’: DWF flexes New Law arm with BT managed services contract

DWF has landed its first major post-IPO client win after securing a five-year managed legal services mandate for BT’s insurance and real estate work.

Up to 40 lawyers from BT’s in-house legal team of nearly 400 staff could transfer from BT to DWF by the end of this year as part of the deal, which saw DWF chosen ahead of 25 other providers following a year-long process. Continue reading “‘An incredible opportunity’: DWF flexes New Law arm with BT managed services contract”

NRF hires the mind behind Barclays radical panel shake-up to launch legal ops consulting arm

NRF hires the mind behind Barclays radical panel shake-up to launch legal ops consulting arm

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is making an ‘offensive move’ against the Big Four on legal operations consulting with the hire of the well-regarded former Barclays’ head of external engagement, Stéphanie Hamon (pictured).

The firm announced today (9 July) that Hamon, who quit the bank earlier this year, will join as a fee-earner in August to head the new practice and help ‘in-house departments function like a business’. Continue reading “NRF hires the mind behind Barclays radical panel shake-up to launch legal ops consulting arm”

Moment of truth: New Law champion Axiom unveils float plans but break up of its business raises doubts

Moment of truth: New Law champion Axiom unveils float plans but break up of its business raises doubts

Axiom making good on long-trailed plans to float will be a milestone for New Law. Thomas Alan assesses if the trailblazer can live up to its own rhetoric

When Axiom announced in February its intentions to float, it was a seminal moment for New Law, with the pioneering flexible lawyering company established as the most prominent global brand in the sector. Back in 2013 one excited commentator forecast 2018 as the year Axiom would become the world’s largest legal provider (spoiler alert, it still wouldn’t make the Global 100). Continue reading “Moment of truth: New Law champion Axiom unveils float plans but break up of its business raises doubts”

We have the technology – Re-engineering a law firm

We have the technology – Re-engineering a law firm

Hamish McNicol, Legal Business: What are the changes people have made in their business in the last 18 months that made the most impact?

Axel Koelsch, Addleshaw Goddard: When I joined Addleshaw I noticed the firm had done lots of innovative things, including paralegals up north, but they were scattered all over. We pulled those things together. When I was talking with clients, they do not think of those as six different things. They just have business problems they need to solve. Bringing all these new ways of working together allows you to start solving clients’ problems and not the law firm’s problems. Continue reading “We have the technology – Re-engineering a law firm”

Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces

Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces

I used to believe the UK legal profession was more imaginative than it got credit for – now I find with an increasingly jaded eye what fresh thinking there is has become stretched ludicrously thin. The vast majority of technology and new models are deployed to make the existing law firm a little more efficient to defensively preserve partner profits.

On one level, you can salute the hard-headed focus on margin. On the another, there are increasingly ominous questions about what worship of margin above other considerations will do to the legal industry at a time of structural pressure. You do not have to be devotees of Peter Drucker or Clayton Christensen to believe that aspiring to run law firms on 50%-plus margins creates a huge amount of competitive space for new entrants to operate and forge potent beachheads. It seems highly debatable that the legal industry will over the next 10 to 20 years sustain large swathes of providers operating on such fat returns. Continue reading “Comment: The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled law’s market forces”

No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?

No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?

For years it could, just about, be ignored. But no longer. The UK’s largest practices are being forced to consider a seductive, provocative, explosive question that strikes right to the heart of a law firm and what it means to be a professional: have they considered an initial public offering (IPO)?

By now, of course, at some level they all have, if only to construct a stock (no pun) rebuttal of the case for capital. But despite public dismissal by the leadership of the majority of top-25 UK firms, under the surface there is far more curiosity in this year’s string of legal floats. Continue reading “No free lunch – Will law firm IPOs be the next big thing?”

The technology debate: Ctrl+Alt+Delete

The technology debate: Ctrl+Alt+Delete

With alternative legal services arms at Global 100 law firms in full swing, and innovation and technology experts striving to make those firms relevant and responsive to the demands of increasingly value-conscious clients, it is fair to say the future is now.

But the traditional role of the lawyer is perhaps facing its biggest existential crisis now as those new demands challenge what legal practice means today. Will the lawyer of 2030 render the celebrated black-letter technicians and swashbuckling dealmakers obsolete? Continue reading “The technology debate: Ctrl+Alt+Delete”

The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces

The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces

I used to believe the UK legal profession was more imaginative than it got credit for – now I find with an increasingly jaded eye what fresh thinking there is has become stretched ludicrously thin. The vast majority of technology and new models are deployed to make the existing law firm a little more efficient to defensively preserve partner profits.

Continue reading “The great distraction – The innovation bandwagon has hobbled market forces”