Sir Nigel Knowles: The end of the legal market as we know it is nigh

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  • Let me guess, Sir Nigel is seeking re-election as global chief executive.

    Nothing gets people to vote for the incumbent like telling everyone they are about to face a catastrophe.

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  • If you believe this argument, then the future is bleak for all those regional practices that just merged, eg Wragge Lawrence Graham and Bond Dickinson. They need to get an international presence asap.

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  • Prosperity is all around?

    I imagine if you are Sir Nigel and trousering £2m a year for little or no productive work, this is probably correct. For the rest of the economy this is an analysis worthy of PlaySchool. The tag at the end of this article, 'Co'Chief Executive' says all we need to know about his belief in streamlining management.

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  • Hand me the dictionary will you--- let's see, " self-delusional" , Hmm, I'd expected Blair, but it's two coves called " co-chief executives" at some law firm...

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  • Some interesting quotes here, deriving (one must assume) from Sir Nigel's most proximate source of material, DLA Piper.

    "There are firms that claim to be operating globally but are in fact thin on the ground in many regions."

    How does one define 'operating globally'? For there are firms that are undeniably operating in multiple locations. But this is not the same as proclaiming that one's firm is 'operating as one' in and from those locations. Into which camp does DLA Piper fall?

    "Those looking for a place at the top table will need to streamline their management structures."

    But have you seen how crowded the top of the DLA pyramid is lately? There are CEOs, Co-CEOs, Chairmen, Practice Group Heads, Regional Heads, Country Heads, Managing Partners of this, Vice-Chairman and Deputy Heads of that.... all positions with numerous, in some cases multiple occupants, many of whom are largely unknown outside of London. Managers need to be fewer, and more mobile.

    "Firms will have to be creative in how they structure themselves and motivate and retain their key asset – the human capital generating fees."

    For which, read: "Our people are our greatest asset... but only if they are generating fees." Is this not a little disingenuous to the spirit of motivating and retaining that key asset?

    People in glass houses Sir Nigel...

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  • There could be a grain of truth here. Of the firms two post-merger firms listed by 'Anonymous Platypus' as potentially facing a dicey future, one of the firms appears to have not made up a single partner this year.

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  • Meanwhile, in other news, those in genuine need are denied legal aid. Still, best be concerned about the hallowed 1% of a $3 billion global industry.

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  • Interesting and raises several points, however;
    1) the points are generic and about 20 years old, harking back to the old cliches the Magic Circle used to wheel out in the 1990s.
    2) it is simply not true that you have to be global or niche, clients come in all shapes and sizes and there will always be firms that correspondingly 'match' these client groups. E.g. the expected demise of the national law firm has in fact proven to be the opposite and national firms have never been stronger.
    3) the problem with these talking head pieces is that they make a great target for critics, rather as happens when reviled companies seek feedback from Twitter and are surprised at the vitriol they receive.

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  • Why not have all lawyers who operate in England & Wales [including the Americans and the Magic Circle] pay a levy of 1% of turnover to the Legal Aid fund. But of course, this wouldn't be as good a PR coup as their nauseatingly patronising 'pro bono' schemes. Has anyone noticed that the Magic Circle seem to act pro bono in the Privy Council, but not in Halifax county court.

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  • I would say broadly Nigel is right. For many years new lawyers have been trained for cheap labour as opposed to on a demand basis. This has led to massive over supply of lawyers. In contrast, the teaching profession and medical profession generally train the numbers they need.

    However, I'm not sure the correction will be as fast and he suggests. I think the correction will be long and painful.

    Looking at the graph for the numbers of lawyers suggests we are at a peak.

    I think the real losers will be today's students.

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