The last decade emerged with the shockwaves of the banking crisis still making themselves felt on the profession. Having just made a series of job cuts in major markets the like of which had never been seen in the legal industry, the mood was infused by uncertainty, the brutal realities of austerity and the sudden emergence of more demanding clients.
There was little time for a serious debate about how the profession would evolve through the 2010s, a decade that went on to rob London’s legal elite of its reputation for causal dominance. It was also a period that attracted forecasts of dramatic change and modernisation in law that continually fell short of reality, despite the introduction of the Legal Services Act. Continue reading “The vision thing – Sizing up the big issues set to shape law through the 2020s”
Morrison & Foerster (MoFo)’s City revenue has lifted 25% for a third consecutive year, outpacing a strong global showing and kicking off US reporting season with a showing of expansive City growth.
The firm’s revenue increase to £38.6m comes amid a 10% global increase in the last fiscal year, from $1.04bn to $1.15bn. Meanwhile, revenue per lawyer grew 4% and profit per partner grew 5% to the highest levels in the firm’s history at just over $2m. Continue reading “MoFo ups City revenue an impressive 25% as US reporting season begins”
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”
He may have overseen more than 50 law firm combinations over the last decade – 12 since July alone – but Dentons chair Joe Andrew (pictured) is adamant that the double US tie-up his firm pulled off at the beginning of October is something completely different.
Pending approval by the partnerships, the 10,000-lawyer globetrotter will in January add another 300 bodies to its sprawling verein as it combines with 175-lawyer midwest firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll and 140-strong Pennsylvania-bred Cohen & Grigsby. Continue reading “Dentons rejigs US structure in bid to create first ‘truly national’ American dream team”
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”
The City offices of progressive US firms continue to set the tone for the London lateral recruitment market – a charge most recently exemplified by Goodwin Procter, which has secured a four-partner technology and life sciences team from Taylor Wessing.
Goodwin hired Malcolm Bates, David Mardle, Tim Worden and Adrian Rainey in a move that makes good on the firm’s promise to build out its City technology and life sciences bench. Mardle started in mid-June, while the remainder will join after completing their respective notice periods. Bates was head of the life sciences practice at Taylor Wessing and advises licensing, collaboration and distribution, manufacturing, outsourcing and R&D projects, as well as contract and patent disputes and regulatory matters. Continue reading “Taylor Wessing quartet boosts flourishing Goodwin City office as O’Melveny losses stack up”
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”
Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance (CC) are representing the City elite on a £4.8bn offer for Merlin Entertainments, in a deal that brought together a line-up of heavy hitters with Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins also fielding veteran partners.
The deal was announced on 28 June with Merlin, which is being advised by Slaughters, agreeing the terms of a recommended offer. The acquiring consortium comprises Kirkbi – the investment vehicle for Lego’s founding family – alongside private equity houses The Blackstone Group and the CPP Investment Board (CPPIB). Continue reading “City and US heavyweights line up on Lego owner’s £4.8bn offer for Merlin”
Compared to the dramatic events that have defined each of the three previous years, 2018/19 was relatively benign for the world’s top 100 law firms. True, the world has been dealing with increasing protectionism, US-China trade wars and the endless saga of the UK-EU divorce. But none of these headwinds were a shock for an industry that three years ago was reeling from the Brexit referendum in the UK and in 2017 from the start of Donald Trump’s presidency in the US.
Last year’s Global 100 report spoke of two milestones, with the global legal elite smashing the $100bn collective revenue barrier and entering the age of the $3bn law firm. Those looking for events of a comparable magnitude this time around will be disappointed. But if the legal industry appeared resilient in summer 2017 and flourishing 12 months later, this year it is nothing short of booming. Collectively, these are the strongest results since the pain of the financial crisis started to be felt ten years ago. Overall revenue for the group grew by 9% to $113.51bn – the fastest rate of growth for a decade; gross profit rose by a healthy 8% to hit $43.44bn – a pace unmatched in ten years. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) also rose by a solid 7% to $1.87m. Continue reading “Global 100 overview: Escape velocity as the world’s largest firms pick up momentum”