Law firm bosses meet for transatlantic summit

UK and US lawyers discussed the challenges and benefits of the Legal Services Act at the Legal Leaders Forum in the US last week.

DLA Piper joint CEO Nigel Knowles and Travers Smith managing partner Chris Carroll took part in a panel discussion with Dechert managing partner Bart Winokur at the two day conference last Friday in San Francisco.

The Legal Leaders Forum, now in its 13th year, brings together key representatives from the legal profession to discuss significant issues affecting the legal market.

The managing partners were invited to highlight the impact of the Legal Services Act in the UK and the possibilities it presents for external capital investment and law firm initial public offerings.

Carroll said: “The US does not have an equivalent at present. I think it is something that is in debate. The initial reaction was similar to the reaction in the UK, the US lawyers were intrigued as to why this is being introduced and how it will shape the legal market.”

Carroll added that the panel discussed the interest expressed by the UK private equity industry in funding capital injections into UK law firms.

Chairman of consultancy firm Hildebrandt, Brad Hildebrandt, commented: “In the US to create something similar to the Legal Services Act, the supreme court in every state would have to approve the legislation. This would clearly take a long time and it would not be a simple process. The regulatory regime is quite different in the US and therefore the challenges are very different.”