The London offices of large US law firms are snapping senior legal talent – but they’re sometimes missing the concept of what the culture of a ‘British’ firm
London law’s gold rush, stimulated by American law firms, has now reached even greater heights with legal media reports indicating top partners are shifting firms at amounts of between USD6 and USD7 million – a lift of $2 million on previous lateral movements.
Law.com reports one London law recruiter saying that a bumper 2020 year has seen American firms strongly placed to offer big money for such hires.
The big money offerings from US law firms in London have been a story that continues to develop, as we have reported on several occasions on LawFuel.
One example is Cahill Gordon & Rendel picking up Allen & Overy finance partner Jonathan Brownson for a figure close to $7 million after Cahill’s reported a lift in revenues of almost 15 per cent.
Lockstep Revenue Changes
“I think this will really highlight the challenges currently facing the U.K. and Magic Circle firms to hold onto their top talent,” said one senior partner. “Even if lockstep reforms go through at these firms, they’re unlikely to be able to pay what we can and from what I’ve been hearing from friends at those firms, the cultural glue that cemented the lockstep is starting to slip after a year of home working.”
Changes to the lockstep payment model for law firms have been in the works for some time with major London law firms and others looking at the means to do so and in order to also have a better capacity to compete with the big money offers.
For instance, Allen & Overy has made changes to their model so it can become more competitive on the recruitment front.
However, issues like firm culture and lifestyle factors also come into play with such high level lateral hires, just as they do with any other legal job situation. Law.com report that one elite UK firm partner noted that the nature and culture of a ‘British’ law firm was something many others grappled with.
Partners and recruiters say that private equity and corporate partners are still in high demand and can attract the highest guarantees, as could high-quality restructuring lawyers.
One recruiter noted that U.S. firms who had previously indicated that they were “just having a few corporate guys sitting in London” have been seeking a more full-service offering in the city and have been particularly targeting growth in ancillary practice areas such as tax and employment.