Alliances dead…long live alliances

It was with some interest and significant amusement that I read the recent article on the end of alliances (The Lawyer, 14 June).

The end of these organisations was predicted in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and now in 1999 by the competition and consultants.

In 1989, when Lex Mundi was formed, there were a mere 10 organisations which could be labelled alliances, networks, or law firm associations.

Today, there are almost 300 representing a sustained 20 per cent cumulative growth during the decade. Great predictions.

Lex Mundi has grown substantially over the past year. It now accounts for 151 firms representing almost 13,000 attorneys in 400 offices across the world.

The firms are among the largest in each jurisdiction and billed clients more than $4bn in 1998. In fact, if the five largest law firms merged with the big five consulting firms tomorrow, Lex Mundi members would still have far more attorneys and offices than the "mega-mega firm".

We live in a new world where even the largest organisations have been forced to rethink their strategies as a result of the internet.

By starting early, in 1995, Lex Mundi is now able to deliver materials to the desktops of most purchasers of legal services for free anywhere in the world.

We will also soon be able to network, across member firms, all the attorneys by practice area to produce the world's largest boutiques. These will be the first to offer clients truly global services by speciality in 151 jurisdictions.

While the end may be in sight, I would suggest it is the "mega firms" which should be concerned since they are unable to compete in most legal markets and to use the new technology to assist clients. We are already there.

Stephen McGarry, president, Lex Mundi