Linklaters” />Last week (4 September) saw the publication of The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report 2006. The result of intensive research over several months, the tables confirmed that, for the majority of firms, the 2005-06 financial year was a boom period.
On 21 August The Lawyer published its ‘money issue’, which ran a large number of stories on finance-related management issues, such as how average partner profits at the UK’s top 10 firms have outstripped associate salaries over the past six years, a currency hedging plan against the weak dollar at Salans and the new bonuses introduced by a number of firms – including Mishcon de Reya and Scotland’s Biggart Baillie – to reflect enhanced earnings.
One story, however, reported an issue that most managing partners would be delighted to have. On 21 August The Lawyer reported that Linklaters had more partners earning in excess of £1m a year than any other firm in the City. The firm had 124 that made £1m or more during 2005-06, beating its closest rival, Slaughter and May, by 34. Allen & Overy took third place with 85 partners, or 25 per cent of its partnership.
Linklaters managing partner Tony Angel later admitted that success on this scale brings its own headaches.
“Speak to any management consultant and they’ll tell you that, if you want to effect change, you need people to be dissatisfied,” Angel said. “Most people have the natural instinct to carry on doing the same thing if they can, but a boom period like the past financial year may be the time when the opportunities to change are at their greatest.
“We have a real desire to build on what’s been a very good run and the current good times offer terrific opportunities. But how do you persuade people there may be a need for change when they’re doing so well?”
For Linklaters, this is much more than an academic exercise. The firm is working on introducing a new three-year plan when its current strategy ends in April 2007, as reported by The Lawyer on 14 August. The firm is targeting the Asian market, specifically China, India and Korea. Angel will also be making sure no signs of complacency set in.