Linklaters v Freshfields: the arms race starts here

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  • End of an era

    This ruthless culling has changed the culture of magic circle. If I were a Linklaters junior, I would be viewing this action with caution. Whilst this action does provide an opportunity, it comes with a risk that I could be one of the seventy if something does go wrong. It looks like the days of camaraderie amongst the partners of Magic Circle firms has come to an end and not before long we will see Magic Circle partners holding on to their clients and creating their own fiefdoms to save themselves from the axe.

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  • False profits?

    "...Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, which are pulling ahead from Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance in the race for global dominance."

    By what token? Your article mentions PEP, but surely there's more to "global dominance" than profitability figures?

    Without further justification, I find the comment a bit misleading.

    (Not a lawyer/PR, by the way - just curious about your reasoning.)

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  • in answer to Ben

    I suppose you could argue that Links is pulling ahead by virtue of being top-rank in both corp and finance, but you can't say that about Freshfields.

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  • also to Ben

    But Linklaters are behind Freshfields in Germany, and that's a really lucrative market in a country which still happens to make things.

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  • CC partner cuts?

    David Childs' comment: “The reality is that every firm is looking at the shape of its partnership, because no one expects the world to return to normal any time soon.” May be out of the loop on this, but is that the first official suggestion that CC partners will be involved in the current round of redundancies? Also, when Links talks to partners leaving, what's the breakdown between equity and salaried?

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  • Anon

    I am forced to agree. This is a step in the direction of an "eat what you kill" mentality. This is true for the partners but also for staff members, who may try to increase their chargeability and possibly not share work and knowledge anymore in order to stick to their job.

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  • Sad!

    It is greatly worrying and sad that the biggest firms in the city are being driven by numbers rather than by quality. They will pay for this "restructuring" when the market changes direction.

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  • Why bother with law anymore?

    Echoing comments posted below, I think it is naive to simply compare this restructuring to the 2006 Freshfields one. Linklaters have already reduced and trimmed their partnership around the last recession, and have been ruthless in culling underperforming staff since then. Add on the well-documented use of performance reviews, and it is clear that Linklaters have taken fully to hear the Harvard-MBA-infused-psychobabble that they preach without recognising how much is expected of their associates without long-term gain. This is just one reason they've struggled to get as high a retention rate (in boom times) as the other MC firms - people want to cut and run.

    Two questions emerge from this announcement:

    (1) Is Linklaters preparing itself to go public / take outside capital? Look at the signs - it is simulatenously removing salaried partners and reducing partners altogether.

    (2) Why did Freshfields not release their mid-year results? Had they gone down, or was it a deliberate ploy to prevent Links having the hard data?

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  • To Bish and Joe

    Bish: You could, and you'd have a point. Even so, surely you'd be arguing that Links is in the same top-tier league as CC and A&O, rather than "pulling ahead" of them?

    Joe: True enough, but it still doesn't justify the "global dominance" hyperbole.

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