It appears that the Magic Circle have pulled a rabbit out of the hat recently with bumper results. This piece by Ollie Williams for Forbes back in late July suggests that the premier league of law firms have been flying high on a wave of advice around the implications of any number of versions of Brexit for their blue chip clients.
But is the work around Brexit turning out to be a “Brucie Bonus” as we wander down the league of law firms?
The hard-pressed middle in the top 100 law firms have a range of business units that are dependent on economic activity. Clients investing in stuff, clients buying businesses, clients taking new premises, clients building things. Other economic indicators point to a slowing of activity across much of the UK economy and talk of a technical recession (two quarters of no or negative growth) started to hit the news a couple of weeks ago.
Now if, as it may be reasonable to assume, the reduced activity is carried through to the sectors that serve the nation’s doers like us lawyers, it may well be that Brexit is causing challenges around utilisation. Just how much work is being done in commercial and real estate teams remains to be seen when results appear next year.
Sadly, today Thomas Cook has succumbed to the realities of a changing market, coupled with the perfect storm of summer heatwaves and Brexit uncertainty. It’s business model of shops and jets, struggling to compete with the online world of holiday booking that has gripped the sector for several years now. There is a case to be made for the travel agent (I say this advisedly as my Dad, Bob, was a business travel agent all of his working life). But that future case is one that needs to change and to be clearly articulated. Thomas Cook struggled to fund yesterday’s decisions, while AirBnB powers to a massive valuation. Is it all down to relevance or is one just a business without the legacy to lug around?
So what’s that all got to do with law? Well it’s the inevitability of change my friends. Uber and Taxi’s. Blockbuster to Netflix. Thomas Cook to Expedia or Airbnb. Change is all around us and we can’t shake it off. Indeed we shouldn’t want to do so.
Agile business models that can adjust must be the holy grail for the mid tier. How they adapt and adopt these more flexible approaches the question. The Magic Circle is a closed shop of five and arguably a totally different business model to firms further down the batting order.
In the mid-market, traditionally characterised by reasonably undifferentiated competition, is it time for a more collaborative approach?
Law and management consultancy are two professions that have seen rising levels of pay, largely as a result of uncertainties posed by Brexit.