But the Ashursts’ Chief is also aware of the global war for legal talent . . and his firm sees itself at the forefront of that battle
Working out what is going to show major growth for law firms this year and beyond from a law firm leaders’ viewpoint is always an interesting insight and so when Ashhursts’ global boss discussed his 4 areas of growth it’s time to take notice.
The Australian Financial Review interviewed Ashursts’ global managing partner Paul Jenkins (below) who identified the four, key areas of
Jenkins is also a good source of market intelligence about the escalating war for talent in professional services given Ashurst, which has 3500 employees and 450 partners, is expanding at a rapid clip, including into consulting.
Ashurst was formed from the merger of Ashurst in the United Kingdom and Blake Dawson in Australia in 2012 and under Jenkins leadership the firm has increased revenues by 40 per cent to £700 million ($AUD1.28 billion) in the financial year ending April 30, 2021. Jenkins says he is planninbg for a further 16 per cent increase this year, in which case it will make Ashursts about half the size of such global Big Law ‘magic circle’ firms as Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
So where does he see that growth coming from?
The four areas of growth he identifies are: digital economy; energy transition; infrastructure; and real estate.
Breaking them down, he sees as follows –
The Digital economy – growth in areas like digital infrastructure, such as mobile networks, fibre, data centres, exchanges, fintech and subsea cables.
Development, disputes and other areas in this digital economic growth provide fertile ground for law firms. The growth in fintech investment in the UK and elsewhere is highly relevant to Ashurst given it earns about 40 per cent of its revenue from the banking sector.
Energy – the landmark EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities as a game-changer because it will require companies, asset managers and investors to report publicly on the level of sustainability of their operations.
When Europe develops new standards they frequently go global, creating major legal work opportunities, as occurred with car emissions, electric vehicle laws and securities market regulations covering conflicts of interest between investment bankers and research analysts.
Infrastructure – the size and complexity of infrastructure projects will continue to be lucrative for law firms and he sees no slowing in that area. President Joe Biden’s $US2 trillion infrastructure plan will likely involve increased use of the private-public partnership model.
Real estate – No surprises from the law firm leader here as he sees institutional investors who are keen to invest in all parts of the real estate capital and constantly looking for new opportunities, including in areas like data centres, logistics, life sciences and commercial offices in good locations.
The War for Legal Talent
In the war for talent, Jenkins says there is a full package of what these people are looking for, including culture, people, client base, global opportunities and brand – and, (surprise, surprise) remuneration.
He says Ashurst will soon announce some “significant hires” in key areas in the near future, including in its fast-growing consulting division, started in 2020 and growing to 50 advisory roles.
“While the market is also hot in this area, we are seeing strong interest given our differentiated offering – combining legal services, consulting and efficient delivery, including using legal tech solutions,” Jenkins says.
The growth of major areas of opportunity herald further profitable activity for law firms post-COVID, as well as signaling further high-value lateral moves from Big Law firms and more merger activity as firms seek to increase their ability to secure the heavy duty legal work.
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