Stuck in the middle

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  • A couple of points about Trowers.

    There was no Arab Spring in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia so that excuse for poor performance doesn't fly.

    The Saudi retreat has nothing to do with losing the last associate. The rumour was that the Exco of Trowers met in March 2011 and voted to close the Saudi office. Two of the 3 lawyers on the ground were made "redundant" on the spot and one was left hanging. The local partner was given notice a month or two later terminating the relationship. It was an intentional move to leave Saudi Arabia and if there is any integrity in the management of that firm they should confirm it.

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  • When I think of the firms 'that got left behind' I think of Dickinson Dees.
    Their partners haven't embraced change well. Therefore they've slid from around 25th in 1995 to nearly 60th in 2012.
    I wonder if any of the firms mentioned will now change their strategy? I doubt it.

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  • All of these firms will ultimately become part of much larger combinations. They should get their act together whilst they can still do mergers of choice.

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  • 2.29pm - I have to disagree.

    Many of these Dodo firms will die. A small minority will get merged into more dynamic firms.

    In the end, they all get forgotten.

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  • A merger between LG and Nabarro would make perfect sense; their combined AIM, general corporate and property practices would readily challenge the likes of BLP etc.

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  • The problem that these firms have is not that they are generalist, but that they are sub-scale and have no international platform (and lack the resources to build one).
    Mergers don't just make sense, they are inevitable and one wonders what they are waiting for.
    @ Anonymous 3:29 pm - law firms seldom actually go out of business in the sense of bankruptcy or complete break-up, they are far more likely to suffer a drip-drip decline through defections, loss of clients, a decline in relative profitability and scale, and then rescue mergers/take over by another firm.
    Mergers of choice before this negative spiral begins are a quite different prospect however.

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  • There's nothing inevitable about merging. When the push required to lift PEP from £450k pa by 20-30% is considerably more than 20-30% more sweat and effort why should it? And while PEP's dropping by 5-10% pa the sense of urgency is missing. What is noticeable is that those who bet the shop on catching up with the big firms are suffering post 09. There's a massive gap between top 5 and top 50, but that doesn't mean the future for the top 150 is all about international expansion.

    The issue is Not consolidation - it's buyer power. Most if not all of these medium tier firms could restore their PEP levels if they stopped wasting time and money on partner pet projects. Trying to be A&O lite is a nonsense, but there are alternatives.

    If you think the profession is going the same way as Accountants etc - you're wrong - dangerously so. The real issue is much more subtle and much more destructive than some illusory search for scale for scale's sake.

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  • I remember applying to join LG and Dickinson Dees in 1999. Thank heavens I didn't join either.

    These are firms that won't last. Stale management representing below average lawyers. Even if what Maule is proposing is going to save LG, by now there will be an ingrained culture of coasting.

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  • I think this article is unnecessarily harsh on LG; profits are broadly comparable with similar firms (think Nabarro and the like for firms which have a similar spread of departments). The firm also makes broadly the same revenue as it did 3/4 years ago, despite having nearly 20% less staff. Hence, it looks like a tightly run (if conservative) ship.

    The firm's international strategy leaves much to be desired however, I think they feel a lot more at home undertaking overseas work from London (their India desk for example).

    For the record, I'm not on LG's payroll.

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  • I think the safely safely approach is responsible and has kept partners in jobs for life. Many of the firms that have risen in recent years have shed their old school partners.
    I regard the six law firms listed to each be superior to Dickinson Dees. Therefore its safe to conclude Dickinson Dees are now lower league. After all, if they were a football club they would be Leyton Orient.

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