What makes a great firm? What makes a market leader? And what makes the market leader? Today’s Web Week is dedicated to a spat between two posters on a couple of last week’s stories, who seek to answer just those questions in a heated debate.

‘Water’ fight

Two positive Freshfields stories appeared on TheLawyer.com this week – one on the firm’s win for Tesco against the Competition Commission, the other on it securing the mandate for building giant Wolseley in its £1bn rights issue
– that had one reader ­wondering whether the firm can “ever do anything wrong? They seem to be walking on water.”

The comment irritated ‘M’, who was swift to ask: “Who is posting this cr@p?”
The first poster responded: “M needs to read the comment more carefully. It is precisely because Freshfields is winning so many cases, getting on panels and not firing people like its peers, that it is ‘walking on water’ – it appears to be the only magic circle firm to be untouched by the maelstrom.”

Unsurprisingly, M ­disagreed: “No, my love, perhaps you need to work on understanding nuance and sarcasm. My point is that there is no disproportionate ­‘winning’ by Freshfields. It is winning things, as it ought to, but certainly not demonstrably more than its competitors. It wins things all the time, which is why it is a great firm. The ‘walking on water’ comment just sounds silly. The ­comment, along with one posted on the Wolseley rights issue article, appears to be the work of some kind of ‘marketing genius’, Freshfields ­fanboy. Granted, not laying off associates is good work by the Fleet St Elite, but let’s see how long that lasts. And let’s not forget the groaning from the Freshfields lawyers who didn’t appreciate the pay freeze/decrease – ‘untouched by the maelstrom’ it certainly is not.”