Letter from Manhattan – The $6.4m question

Letter from Manhattan – The $6.4m question

‘Not everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.’ The parting shot from Woody Allen’s iconic 1979 film Manhattan resonates among the Wall Street elite lamenting the increasing lure of megabucks within even the most clubby of partnerships.

In a legal community renowned for its glacial pace of change, New York has recently seen its share of upheaval, triggered by headline-grabbing paychecks testing faith in patrician partnership models. Continue reading “Letter from Manhattan – The $6.4m question”

Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders

Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders

If much of the commentary in this issue focuses on what has gone awry for major UK law firms in the previous decade, this column will tackle one big opportunity ahead and there is no bigger opportunity for City firms than the US.

Now for many, the received wisdom is that the London elite have wasted their chance, leaving the vast US legal market effectively closed to them. There is much to that argument. Had the group built on their initial beachheads in the early 2000s, the picture would be very different now. Clifford Chance (CC) partners still lament the Rogers & Wells tie-up, a mis-sold marriage that nonetheless offered a basis for growth that CC instead spent the next 15 years squandering. Had it achieved a conservative 3-5% annual growth at this practice after the deal, it would be generating over $600m stateside now. Continue reading “Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders”

Different strokes – Three perspectives in championing diversity in corporate America

Different strokes – Three perspectives in championing diversity in corporate America

Rachel Gonzalez, general counsel, Starbucks

Starbucks has a fundamental business tenet that we are creating a welcoming place for all people, and that means inclusion and diversity is critical to our success. We provide inclusion training and tools to managers to ensure we are preparing all leaders to foster a diverse culture based on merit. Continue reading “Different strokes – Three perspectives in championing diversity in corporate America”

Dentons double merger adds 300 lawyers to create ‘first truly national US law firm’

Dentons double merger adds 300 lawyers to create ‘first truly national US law firm’

Dentons will have more than 1,000 lawyers across 33 US markets following the latest in a long line of tie-ups announced since the start of the summer.

After expanding in South America, Asia Pacific and Africa through ten mergers since July, the globetrotting firm has announced it is to combine with 175-lawyer Midwest firm Bingham Greenebaum and 140-strong Pennsylvania-bred Cohen & Grigsby. Continue reading “Dentons double merger adds 300 lawyers to create ‘first truly national US law firm’”

‘Focus and speed’: A&O to fast-track US investment after foiled O’Melveny merger with new hires imminent

‘Focus and speed’: A&O to fast-track US investment after foiled O’Melveny merger with new hires imminent

Andrew Ballheimer, Allen & Overy’s (A&O’s) global managing partner, has promised heavy investment in its US practice in the wake of the City giant’s abandoned tie-up with O’Melveny & Myers, saying new US hires are on the verge of being announced.

Speaking to Legal Business on Friday (6 September), Ballheimer said the market could expect ‘more focus and speed of execution’ in the Magic Circle firm’s US recruitment push as new partners, including US lawyers, have recently been voted in by the partnership. Continue reading “‘Focus and speed’: A&O to fast-track US investment after foiled O’Melveny merger with new hires imminent”

Comment: Global 100 reportcard – US leaders continue decade-long surge as City rivals dither

Comment: Global 100 reportcard – US leaders continue decade-long surge as City rivals dither

Judging the world’s largest law firms, it is becoming a familiar tradition after we unpack the results of the Global 100 to look ahead to a more troubled outlook… which then turns into another year of robust growth.

Take 2019’s results, one of the strongest showings since the banking crisis a decade ago, which have seen the group push revenue up 9% to $113.51bn, while profits per equity partner (PEP) across the 100 increased 7% to an average $1.87m. Over a third of firms saw revenues increase by more than 10%, up from 16 in 2016; just four saw declining turnover. While underlining revenue per lawyer once again barely moved upwards, there are now 19 firms with PEP in excess of $3m, all bar one American, and eight exceeding $4m. Continue reading “Comment: Global 100 reportcard – US leaders continue decade-long surge as City rivals dither”

Global 100 – Letter from Silicon Valley

Global 100 – Letter from Silicon Valley

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”

Global 100 results show US question looming ever more ominously

Global 100 results show US question looming ever more ominously

Judging the world’s largest law firms, it is becoming a familiar tradition after we unpack the results of the Global 100 to look ahead to a more troubled outlook… which then turns into another year of robust growth.

Take 2019’s results, one of the strongest showings since the banking crisis a decade ago, which have seen the group push revenue up 9% to $113.51bn, while profits per equity partner (PEP) across the 100 increased 7% to an average $1.87m. Over a third of firms saw revenues increase by more than 10%, up from 16 in 2016; just four saw declining turnover. While underlining revenue per lawyer once again barely moved upwards, there are now 19 firms with PEP in excess of $3m, all bar one American, and eight exceeding $4m. Continue reading “Global 100 results show US question looming ever more ominously”

Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies

Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies

When looking for good in the world, corporate governance law is not the most obvious place to train your eye. However, there is a sizeable band of corporations – thousands, in fact – who have opted to start just there, using corporate governance as a springboard to the greater good.

Shareholder primacy, often cast as the villain in corporate scandals or blinkered business decisions, operates on the theory that the job of directors and management is to maximise returns to investors. In turn, corporate law is traditionally viewed as a contract between corporations and investors that the company will, in the balance of law, deliver the highest return. Continue reading “Corporations with benefits – Assessing the rise of US public benefit companies”

Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission

I have always been attracted to public service. A number of my colleagues from my time at Gibson Dunn had gone on to serve as solicitors general in state attorney generals’ offices. Those offices provide unparalleled opportunities, such as the chance to argue appeals and challenge areas in which the federal government has exceeded its powers and placed onerous regulatory requirements on the state. So I was very grateful to have been offered the opportunity to work in the West Virginia solicitor general’s office.

In 2017, I became the general counsel (GC) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I am primarily responsible for two components – reviewing Commission rules and orders to ensure they are legally sustainable, and defending those actions in court. I also oversee units that deal with fraud and bankruptcy issues, as well as various internal issues like employment matters. In West Virginia, I supervised four or five attorneys at any given time. Now, I oversee a team of more than 70 lawyers, so I’ve had to focus a lot more on learning how best to allocate my time and how best to delegate. Continue reading “Tom Johnson, Federal Communications Commission”