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”

Law firm tech: Turning the lights on

Law firm tech: Turning the lights on

What do the individuals responsible for putting together the tech behind Lady Gaga’s concerts, a creative executive of ER and the developer of Reuters’ first-ever online financial products have in common? All three reinvented themselves as tech experts at top UK law firms. And you would be forgiven for wondering why on earth someone would make such a move.

‘Law has traditionally not been perceived as the place to find creative and innovative people,’ concedes Andrew Mcmanus, who was IT director at live events business The NEC Group before joining Eversheds in 2014. ‘But I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.’ Continue reading “Law firm tech: Turning the lights on”

‘It’s a marriage of convenience’: Gordon Dadds to make its big splash as Ince merger talks intensify

‘It’s a marriage of convenience’: Gordon Dadds to make its big splash as Ince merger talks intensify

Gordon Dadds has emerged as the unlikely rescuer to ailing Ince & Co, with the two outfits in merger discussions to create the UK’s largest listed law firm.

The seismic move will create a £114m turnover firm called Ince Gordon Dadds. Gordon Dadds is currently in the due diligence stage, but a partnership vote is yet to take place. Continue reading “‘It’s a marriage of convenience’: Gordon Dadds to make its big splash as Ince merger talks intensify”

Comment: Law firm IPOs still don’t make much sense (but soon could)

Comment: Law firm IPOs still don’t make much sense (but soon could)

‘Who would possibly invest in a law firm?’ asks one leader this month, reflecting a common view. Yet the current vogue for floating law firms suggests momentum is indeed building, more than a decade after the introduction of the Legal Services Act.

In recent weeks, DWF has turned heads with talk of a £1bn float this year. While the price – not officially attributed to the firm – looks fanciful, even a standard £400m-£600m valuation would be by some way the largest legal float yet seen. The last 12 months have seen a series of offerings, with Knights in June raising £50m and others recently braving the market, including Rosenblatt, Gordon Dadds and Keystone Law. And while larger commercial law firms publicly play down the prospects of raising outside capital, there is no doubt it is now getting more active consideration. Continue reading “Comment: Law firm IPOs still don’t make much sense (but soon could)”

To list, or not to list? More, and much bigger, firms are asking that question

To list, or not to list? More, and much bigger, firms are asking that question

As DWF positions to float, Hamish McNicol asks if the legal IPO is going mainstream

Eversheds Sutherland co-chief executives Lee Ranson and Mark Wasserman recently hosted more than 700 partners at the firm’s partner conference in New York. Continue reading “To list, or not to list? More, and much bigger, firms are asking that question”