The Lawyer’s new China Elite report contains the most detailed research available on the PRC legal market and contains unparalleled insight into the country's leading law firms. They vary in size, practice focus and geographic coverage, but they all share one common quality – ambition... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Freshfields certainly needs to beef up its US securities side. The US piece has been a headache for all the major UK practices; you can virtually count the number of registered offerings done by City firms on the fingers of one hand. Freshfields particularly needs to strengthen its debt side in order to support its acquisition finance and structured finance businesses. Assuming that the firm's US securities lawyers' noses are not put out of joint by the move, Debevoise (or Cleary Gottlieb) can certainly provide useful back-up. There's plenty of material for discussion when the US agenda comes up at the next Freshfields partnership council meeting in March next year.
Clifford Chance is taking an equally robust approach. Stung by The Lawyer's revelations back in September about how much it was trailing its magic circle rivals on initial public offerings (IPOs), Clifford Chance is all of a sudden taking equity capital markets seriously. The fact that the initiative is led by Adam Signy, probably the firm's top M&A rainmaker, and Nick Wrigley, widely tipped as the heir to Michael Bray, underlines its political importance. The party line from Aldersgate Street is: "We may be trailing in the UK, but watch us go in Europe."
It is odd, then, that only one Continental jurisdiction is represented on the taskforce - Italy, courtesy of Nick Wrigley. So where is Germany? Isn't that the hottest IPO market in Europe? And isn't Markus Pfüller's equity capital markets practice at Clifford Chance Pünder one of the firm's success stories?
Most of all, the two initiatives provide a fascinating insight into Freshfields' and Clifford Chance's contrasting strategies. Any localised relationship Freshfields develops will not, or so it hopes, harm its chances of pulling off the big US merger. Clifford Chance's equity capital markets strategy, meanwhile, will see it go head-to-head with the Wall Street giants in Europe.