Judgement day looms for Herbies corporate partners

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  • There are too many corporate partners at HS who are at the top of the lockstep and just coasting along.
    The problem with lockstep is that when you make someone a partner you really have to ask yourself, "is this candidate still going to be generating enough business in 10 or 15 years' time?"
    That question hasn't been addressed sufficiently by HS in the past - and it shows.

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  • I've heard they were going to be managing out certain people but 15-20 is a huge amount, and it's going to hit morale very hard...

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  • They just don't have enough top talent in corporate. James Palmer is Slaughter and May quality, but he's leagues ahead of most people around him. They've also lost key people in Tokyo and Hong Kong and those offices are basically freewheeling at the moment.

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  • You can have lockstep as long as management keep an eye on it and manage out regularly. Herbies have weak management and have ducked the issue. I think the senior and managing partner have failed to leave up to the high hopes many had when they were appointed.

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  • They haven't post key people in Tokyo. They just started cleaning up. Anyone who would write such thing would uninformed or an ex-Tokyo partner.

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  • The fact their so-called European alliance company Gleiss Lutz won't touch them with a barge pole makes the situation worse. There is no way Gleiss partners would ever want to merge with Herbert Smith because they just don't understand what they're talking about and aren't as international as they think they are. They don't send much work Gleiss's way, and yet Gleiss has progressed very well over the last three years whereas Herbert Smith has not.

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  • Funny how all these commentators won't put their names to their opinions. Are they all still scared of David Gold?

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  • "Herbie Rides Again" - I'm guessing you're scared of David Gold as you also haven't put your name to your opinion.

    #wazzock

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  • What a complete non-story. There are ups and downs. You get ahead by sticking together and staying to plan over 3-5 years. Litigation is not that far ahead and the markets will turn.
    HS is a first class out-fit and, effectively, magic circle; have you seen the shape CC is in?
    All that said, a few or so non-performing partners should be given deadlines, or moved out; irrespective of dept. and history. That's not news. Fortunately, HS is a pretty cool set, so do not expect any knee-jerk reaction.

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  • Persisting with the lockstep with no tapering coupled with the downturn in profitability relative to its peers has led to voluntary and involuntary departures at partner level which has diminished what was once a great firm.

    David Gold is an irrelevance.

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  • Lawyers are so fickle and forgetful. No doubt it was the corporate partners propping up the litigators a few years ago- that of course is soon forgotton. I thought the idea of a partnership was that it is like a marriage- for better for worse. One branch of the firm shoud support others if one is having a tough time- things even themselves out over time. Oh- just remembered- laywers cant do that as it might affect thier cut of the equity- - they might only earn £600k and not the £900k they "deserve". How will they pay for the mortgage on that house in the South of France! Grow up the lot of you- you are ment to be one firm working as a team, not a load of back public school stabbers.

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  • Oh dear, isn't this how Barlow Lyde started their decline? By knifing the corporate partners, which led eventually to a free-for-all. And ironically, 5/6 years ago, a number of Barlow Lyde partners said their aspiration was to make the firm the next Herbert Smith. The last posting is so right - lawyers are greedy and short termist.

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  • Herbert Smith is in an unfortunate no-mans land, far too big to be a boutique practice but dwarfed by the global firms. It's weakness in corporate is a further devastating flaw.

    The firm needs either a transformative merger or a massive cull to strip back to a London/litigation driven core. At the moment it is dying on its feet.

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  • Perhaps some of the corporate partners in question will remember how they treated the property partners at HS a few years back ? What comes round goes round.

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  • OMG!! The last two postings prove my point. If these reflect current thinking, its bye bye Herbies. You might think your brand will save you, but not when you're too focused on spilling blood on the floor.

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  • The problem with pure lockstep is that you need strong management to deal with underperformance. Herbies management have consistenly failed to grip this issue and exit underperforming partners. Ultimately pure lockstep will never work.

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  • Even a HS trainee I notice some very real organisational problems. There is a huge coasting culture amongst many equity partners. If HS wants to succeed it simply has to operate more like any other business.

    Its a shame because HS has some amazing talent in corporate. Some of the comments above that HS it not as international as its competitors are way off the mark: HS has internationalised in the past view years. Its Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Middle East and Moscow practices are really very strong and most work is cross-border.

    In my view it would make sense for the firm to focus on building the areas of corporate in which it is at the top of the market, in particular energy.

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  • HS is a firm stuck in yester-year run by work-shy has beens who provide a sub-standard and over-priced service - the place will be on its knees in a few more years if current trends continue.

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