I’ve always suspected that, like politics, careers in journalism largely end in failure. Here is how mine ends. After 20 years covering the legal industry, it’s time to do something else. Given that length of time, I hope my four regular readers will forgive the introspection of my final Legal Business column.
I was an accidental legal journalist, just a business reporter who ended up covering law while looking for the next sector to cover in my restless twenties. Business journalists should want to cover a sector that is large, competitive, has smart people and that Britain excels at. Law certainly ticked all those boxes, not that you’d know it from the lack of attention it gets outside its own media. Continue reading “Comment: Last orders – The final reflections of a veteran legal pundit”
Traditionally, like the proverbial London transit, you wait ages for one set of Magic Circle results and then they start coming in like buses. Hot on the heels of Allen & Overy (A&O)’s financial results, City peer Linklaters has just unveiled its 2019/20 numbers, with a similarly resilient showing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Linklaters today (16 July) confirmed that its revenues for the period to the end of April were £1.64bn, up a marginal 0.7% on the previous year. Pre-tax profit stood at £726.9m, with profit per equity partner ebbing 5.1% down at £1.612m. Continue reading “Linklaters edges revenue up despite global slump as City results start flowing in”
There has been much speculation about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the profession but the first set of results from a leading law firm has confirmed the gist of months of market chatter: they’re doing fine.
Allen & Overy (A&O)’s financial results for the 2019/20 year show that the City giant managed the remarkable feat of driving revenues up 4% to £1.69bn, despite nearly two months of its crucial year-end period catching the full brunt of the Covid-19 lockdown. Continue reading “A&O shrugs off lockdown to hike revenues 4% to £1.69bn in first post-pandemic results from UK law elite”
Sometimes a shock looks certain to leave life forever changed only for things to carry on much as normal. Sometimes, the jolt marks a genuine crack in the foundations underpinning industries, business and society. We now know that for the profession and the City, the banking crisis proved very much in the latter camp. In law, the most visible result of this was the end of the startling 25-year success story of the Magic Circle, closing the period in which the group had blazed a trail across the global market and become utterly dominant in their core European and Asian heartlands.
After the banking crisis, growth slowed, ground was ceded to US rivals, and even some mid-tier rivals, and the group lost much of the strategic daring that defined their remarkable ascent. They remained successful institutions but the swagger was gone, the myth of invincibility lost. Continue reading “Comment: After their lost decade, the current crisis should see the Magic Circle back on world-beating form”
Alex Novarese, Legal Business: Let’s get some observations on how people think their businesses are performing.
Charlie Jacobs, Linklaters: If you look at the last three years, conditions for law firms have been pretty benign. For a lot of our clients, it has been a tough environment, but the law firms have performed well. There are more people competing, yet the top law firms all seem to be performing well. Complexity is good for our business. But most would say it feels a little softer this year. On a global basis, given the various tensions, it feels there are fewer of the big, transformative deals we all love. This year looks slightly more challenging. Continue reading “The Global 100 debate – Decision time”
Leading US firms continue to dominate the London recruitment market with significant appointments from the Magic Circle, as Weil, Gotshal & Manges hired Linklaters’ highly-rated M&A partner David Avery-Gee (pictured) shortly after Allen & Overy (A&O) saw corporate pair Simon Toms and George Knighton jump ship to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
The hire of Avery-Gee is a coup for Weil, which has struggled against more potent US rivals in recent years in London. The office has had setbacks in corporate, including the loss of London managing partner Mike Francies’ protégé Samantha McGonigle, who left after 13 years to co-found a growth fund in February. Continue reading “Double blow for Magic Circle as US leaders Weil and Skadden secure M&A veterans”
As Legal Business was unpacking the 2018/19 financial results of the UK’s top 100 law firms, the Office for National Statistics reported that Britain’s economy had shrunk for the first time since 2012. The 0.2% fall in output in the second quarter of 2019 was the latest in a series of ominous signs for a nation that appears, at the time of writing, on course for a cliff-edge exit from the European Union amid a chaotic political landscape and falling currency.
As Legal Business went to press, a row was raging over government moves to prorogue Parliament in the run-up to the 31 October deadline to exit the EU, threatening constitutional wrangles and a no-deal Brexit. A nation famed for exporting democracy, its strong institutions and a stable business environment is looking more Banana Republic than Britannia resurgent by the day. Continue reading “LB100 Overview: Apocalypse soon?”
This article sits in the news leader slot of our latest issue, but when considering Allen & Overy (A&O) and its epic courtship of O’Melveny & Myers, the defining factor has been the absence of news. Since it emerged last spring that A&O was in merger talks with the Los Angeles-bred firm, there have been bare scraps of information, alongside alternating whispers the deal was/was not on. Finally the resolution came on 2 September, with the pair announcing the end of the talks with the traditional noises about mutual respect.
The reason for the long delay was as much the scale and ambition of the merger as the inevitable complications of bringing 700 partners on side. The looming spectre of a messy ‘no-deal’ Brexit and fresh falls in sterling further strained a delicate situation, probably tipping it over the edge. Not only were the firms aiming for full financial integration upfront – a move never attempted on the scale of a £2.4bn transatlantic union – the aim was to do an immediate merging of governance, leadership and remuneration. Forget vereins and grace periods kicking tricky issues down the road. That all-in approach raised the stakes and logistic issues enormously. Not least it would have involved substantive reform of A&O’s remuneration structure to make it more compatible with a US firm. Continue reading “The end of A&O’s marathon O’Melveny merger bid reveals the stark choices facing the Magic Circle”
As the associate pay war rages, Thomas Alan finds major firms are falling back on cultural tropes in the expensive jostle for trainee talent
When Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announced in May a pay hike for newly-qualified salaries, rising from £85,000 to £100,000 with bonuses on top, new battle lines were drawn in the war for junior talent. Continue reading “Prestige, cash and a bit of spin: how to get ahead in trainee recruitment”
‘Some of the management are dinosaurs. They don’t understand how important this is.’ So speaks one loyalist Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner of a growing unease shared by some regarding the City giant’s direction.
When Legal Business’ last focus on the 276-year-old institution hit desks in late 2015, the question was how newly-elected senior partner Edward Braham and co-managing partner Chris Pugh would secure the firm’s place in the Global Elite as the challenge from profitable US rivals mounted. Continue reading “The Global 100: The devil you know – The two visions for Freshfields”