If, as I’ve argued, Big Law is dying, then what explains Hogan & Hartson and Lovells’s plan to create a US/UK megafirm?
The WSJ explains that the merger would create “one of the world’s largest law firms, with about 2,500 attorneys and $2 billion in annual revenue.” I’ve argued that Big Law lacks a business model that binds property to the firm. If that’s true of large law firms generally, then it would seem that it’s likely to be even truer of a transatlantic firm with clashing cultures, notably including eat-what-you-kill vs. seniority-based compensation.
My guess is that the consultants think clients will pay premium prices to a firm that can provide integrated advice on global regulatory and antitrust issues. But in order for that to work, the firm has to keep all those lawyers working for the firm. The WSJ quotes Peter Kalis, chairman of K&L Gates LLP, as saying that the obstacles to the merger “boil down to . . . [n]ame, power and money.”
Oh, is that all?
Think about what happened to other firms that have grown rapidly to become one-stop-shopping behemoths. Remember Brobeck?
So good luck to Sterling Cooper Hogan Hartson Lovells (or whatever the new firm will be called).
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