Friendly fire

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  • Michael Rose interviewed me for a job with Allens 10 years ago - I remember him telling me that the alliance with S&M had had a very large impact on the sort of work they were getting through. Maybe it turned out to be just a bit too transformative for S&M's sake...

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  • I guess being friends with "S&M" is very beneficial for local Asian firms. Not only good to get referrals from S&M on high-end deals but also a nice brand marketing tool. Non exclusive relationship also meant other international firms will be willing to work for them. Perfect deal for locals!

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  • Slaughter and May has been, and continues to be, very much a victim of its own success. Its historically very high profit margins have meant that virtually any type of expansion, either through office openings or mergers, has risked a decline in short term margins and thus has been avoided.
    However this has damaged the long term prospects of the firm as a business. Badly. Slaughter and May is now clearly a far weaker business overall, looking at size, breadth, total profits and profit margin, than the other members of the "magic circle". Indeed it has fallen so far behind that its sole claim to membership of that group is now its profit margin.
    Which of course then acts even more against organic expansion or mergers. And so the vicious circle continues until those profit margins will start falling too, as Slaughter and May is simply unable to compete with firms which are so much larger and genuinely global.
    This might not have mattered if the world had stayed as it was in the 1990s. But it has changed radically and that change continues to accelerate. The UK market is going to be a very small part of the global market in the future.

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