Market Roundup: Summer 2019

Summer's now firmly over as we look ahead to the Autumn and lead up to the end of the year. So, how are law firms adapting for the future?

With the Summer now firmly over, firms are looking ahead to the Autumn and lead up to the end of the year.

Whereas last year was all about the appetite to merge, with the demise of the Allen & Overy/O’Melveny & Myers’ potential mega-merger, this may be the start of the trend away from combining. Certainly the rise of interest in IPOs, other structurings and investment, new entrants and the Big Four making a play all mean that the legal market remains very fluid, with recruitment continuing apace offering a plethora of options.

As well as structural positioning, law firms themselves are also continuing to need to adapt to clients’ needs and expectations and the increase in offering other services and products other than straightforward legal advice are becoming increasingly prevalent and necessary in the quest to build for the long term. Technology tools, forensics and cyber security, are key areas where law firms are making a play for areas outside providing straightforward legal advice. Adapting for the future is a common theme and is leaving firms with wider disparity: either capable of innovation and change or remaining resolute in their current offering and strategy. This as yet may not give clear ground in revenues, but in culture and longevity, it may be the biggest differentiator. This then gives rise to a number of different opportunities for lawyers in the market as firms are having to nail their colours to the mast in looking at future strategy: are they committed to globalisation? Specialisation? Who are they targeting and where do their strengths lie? What does the future look like for the law firm (and consequently for the lawyer joining them)?

There remains activity across areas, even real estate which has dampened domestically with the question marks surrounding the current political uncertainty. Counter cyclical areas such as restructuring and insolvency, dispute resolution have become increasingly busy but sector focused practices ranging from energy, life sciences and financial services have maintained activity and appetite remains strong.

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