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‘Mark Brandon: UK law is focusing too much on the wrong things’ – A response from Australasia

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Over the last weekend I (@RWS_01) got into a tweet exchange with the author of a recent good analysis post on the thelawyer.com – ‘UK law is focusing too much on the wrong things‘ – Mark Brandon (@MotiveLegal). As part of the exchange, I promised Mark a response to his article.

First off, as it has been some time since I worked directly in UK law, my reply to Mark’s post should be read from an Australasian perspective.

Second, in my reply I have used the same numbering and headings as Mark used in his original post.

So, here goes.

1. The mega-consolidators will struggle

I partially agree with Mark on this one.

If, as I think Mark suggests, law firms are merging simply to ‘purchase’ market share, then I generally agree with him. Likewise, if by ‘conglomerate’, Mark means ‘full service’, then I would also agree.

However, as someone who lives and works in an environment (#Auslaw) where there are roughly:

  • 30 law firms,
  • who earn in excess of A$50 million per year in revenue,
  • with a population of approximately 23 million people,

then I have to say that the trend of consolidation seen in the sector over the past two to three years here will, and needs to, continue.

Will some of these mergers/consolidations result in regional (Asia-wide) mega-firms? Yes, I believe they will [and indeed, with the likes of King & Wood Mallesons, have].

Will these firms struggle? Some yes (most likely those who, as Mark suggests, have consolidated solely to purchase market share), but those who have the right strategy and culture in place, ie where the consolidation is done in consultation with clients, resulting in a more efficient and better service to the client – rather than solely for the financial benefit of the partners of the firms involved, will likely thrive.

Finally, I have to say that I disagree with Mark’s comment that:

“When it comes to law firms, there is such a thing as ‘too big’.”

2. Vereins are over (more…)

The hidden dangers of discounting your fees

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Today’s post is a short rant about the practice and dangers of discounting your legal fees, followed by a useful collection of 20 questions I found earlier that you should be asking yourself if you are discounting your fees.

I’ll start off by disclosing that I hate it when lawyers discount their fees. I especially hate it when this is done without any request by the client – a far more prevalent practice than is perhaps admitted – or consultation with others in the firm (including the practice of discounting on other lawyers’ rates in your firm without even asking them if this is OK!).

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That’s another fine mess we’ve gotten into!

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“That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!” – Oliver Hardy

A lot has been written in the past few weeks on Dentons* decision to no longer publish ‘meaningless‘ (their word, not mine) annual Profits Per Equity Partner (PEP) figures, the latest of which “Partners divided on reliability of PEP and need for transparency” was published on the legalweek.com website last Friday.

While I have a level of sympathy with Dentons argument – and the reality is that PEP figures really are meaningless to all but those who work in the firm, at the same time I do feel that the makings of this situation are those of the law firms themselves.

To expand, in the days prior to LLP status, law firms avoided the press – both legal and non-legal – like the plague. Then publications such as Martindale-Hubbell, Chambers and Asia Pacific Legal 500 started to gain traction and firms started to disclose the business/deals they had undertaken in the past 12 months in the hopes of getting good listings/rankings. In most cases this was done without firms asking their clients if they put any credit in these rankings and their feedback on the benefits of such a strategy.

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