Stuck in the middle

It is a sign of the times when deadly rivals Weightmans and Hill Dickinson enter merger talks. Could we see DLA entering negotiations with Hammond Suddards? Perish the thought.

Following our story last week that Groupama Insurances was to cull its legal panel, it is clear for small to medium-sized firms in the insurance market that it is merge or die. Other sectors are likely to follow. Ironically, the demand to drive down fees and cull legal panels comes at a time when salaries are hiked at the top end of the legal market.

Though it was only a matter of time before magic circle firms responded to Clifford Chance's assistant pay hike, the response of medium-sized firms in increasing assistant salaries is more significant. A number will not be able to match pay hikes and without mergers, could find themselves priced out of the recruitment market. While they might be attractive to clients on price, they may not be on talent.