The City giants
A number of firms in the City talk a good game about globalisation. However, there is a lot more to being global than a list of fancy locations at the top of a letterhead. As Clifford Chance's Keith Clark sums up: “You have got to be heavyweight in the local operations and to make those heavyweight local operations integrate effectively globally.”
National and regional firms
National and regional firms must meet the challenge of the European market. A few firms have made some exploratory steps by opening small foreign offices, joining European alliances or setting up associations with foreign firms. However, it has all been extremely tentative. The risks are obviously great, but the dangers of doing nothing are even greater.
Young barristers are going to find it increasingly difficult to establish a reputation. With solicitors doing more pleadings and more interlocutory work, the junior bar is not getting so many opportunities to impress. Brains alone will not be enough. Barristers are going to have to improve their marketing skills. “We get some stunning applicants,” acknowledges Robert Ralphs of One Essex Court, “but we sit there thinking about charisma, star quality, personality, user-friendliness.”
If the job becomes any less attractive, nobody is going to want to do it. Where the Lord Chancellor is going to find the resources needed to pay judges a competitive salary is anyone's guess. Just as big a challenge is restoring the judiciary's credibility in the eyes of the public. A judicial appointments committee appears the obvious way forward.
It is not women who should rise to the challenge, but the profession. It has to stop talking about a level playing field and actually create one. For law firms, the answer is to develop a more flexible partnership. Most firms will not consider anyone as a partner unless they will give a 100 per cent to the firm. As for the bar, it has no excuse.