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”
For reporters used to the profession’s usual cautious pronouncements, it is striking how enthusiastic California lawyers are about the outlook; in the Bay Area you can forget the caveats that still dominate in New York and London. ‘We are in this extraordinary period of extended boom,’ says Cooley’s San Francisco corporate partner Rachel Proffitt. ‘We see equal strength in capital markets and M&A and that’s because there is so much capital. All indicators point to a continued strong year.’
The list of bullish quotes collected in a dozen interviews with the West Coast legal elite is certainly lengthy. Many note the much-touted fact that if the state was a country, California would be the world’s fifth-largest economy (now larger than the UK). It is also America’s most populous state and third-largest by land mass, measuring 770 miles at its longest point. Others simply invite you to drive down the 101 route from San Jose to San Francisco and look around at the offices of the Sunshine State’s corporate titans like eBay, PayPal, Google, Visa, Intel, Oracle, Twitter… the full list of tech giants remaking multiple industries on a global level. Continue reading “Global 100 – Letter from Silicon Valley”
Greenberg Traurig’s executive chair Richard Rosenbaum has pointed to his firm’s track record for independent thinking as it enters Italy through a merger in Milan.
In July, the northern Italian city will become the location of the Miami-bred firm’s 40th office, after Greenberg absorbs its local ally of 14 years, Santa Maria Studio Legale. Two Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer veterans will also join the firm’s first Italian base: local real estate head Marzio Longo and finance partner Corrado Angelelli, giving it a starting team of around 50 lawyers. Continue reading “‘Independent thinker’ Greenberg Traurig picks Milan as latest step of unusual European footprint”
There was never any doubt that 2018 would prove another good year for US law firms in London coming off what has been a great decade for the breed. But it is only when you start to pull together the numbers that you realise how fast the City legal market is shifting in favour of American entrants. Legal Business has a reputation for being bullish on US firms in London. These numbers indicate that we haven’t been bullish enough. There are now more than 7,000 lawyers working in the London offices of the top 50 largest practices in London. Even stripping out the impact of including the legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner’s City practice, that’s an annual increase of 7%, a startling growth rate and one that is actually accelerating even as many expected investment in London to slow in the face of the UK’s looming exit from the EU.
Continue reading “US firms in London – the new apex predators are here”