The move for consolidation in the legal market is amply demonstrated by the three-way London merger, creating yet another legal behemoth.
The merger, betweens Olswang, CMS and Nabarro, is the largest ever in Britain and creates a €1 billion megafirm – the sixth largest in the world by head count with offices across 39 countries.
Interestingly, the changes are not just driven by the large megafirms already in existence, but also by the nimble, innovative tech-driven smaller firms.
As the FT quoted Norton Rose chief executive Peter Martyr saying –
“The winds of change are blowing strongly”
“The legal profession has been very slow to consolidate in the way predicted for a long time but in the last few years it has really taken off.” Not only is competition from outsourcing and accounting groups increasing, but law firms are also feeling fee pressure from corporate clients, who are increasingly sending more of their legal work to fewer law firms in exchange for lower prices.
London staff from all three firms are to be re-located in CMS’s office in Cannon Place, with the European teams already integrated and work is currently being done for the teams in Dubai and Singapore.
CMS London senior partner Penelope Warne said the move would allow the merged entity ‘to build a new kind of future-facing law firm’.
‘By combining top quality sector expertise with international scale and a strategy to become a progressive technology-driven firm, we are better equipped to deliver excellence for our clients in a rapidly changing market,’ Warne said.
The merged firm will have over 1,000 partners and 7,500 offices.
The Firm Heads
In December a joint statement from the three firms announced the heads of departments. Banking & Finance will be headed by Rita Lowe; Commercial by Iain Stansfield; Corporate by Charles Currier and Iain Newman; Disputes by Guy Pendell; Litigation, Arbitration, Contentious IP, Insurance and Employment by Jonathan Warne and Catherine Taylor; Energy, Projects and Construction by Bob Palmer; Pensions, Financial Services & Products by Simon Pilcher and Real Estate by John Cumpson and Mark Heighton.
Moves Afoot in Legal Arena
The development of large law firm mergers is something that has accelerated since the GFC with the most recent being the merger of Arnold & Porter with Kaye Scholer and the trend is set to continue as technology and pressure on legal fees continue to assert their effects upon the legal marketplace.
The development of megafirms, driven out of the US and London, has characterised the legal market in recent years and will continue to do so as the latest developments demonstrate.