'New Law' on the Rise, as Clients Witness Cracks in 'Big Law' Model, Interlaw Reveals
LONDON, Feb. 5: New research, by Legal Week Intelligence, part of ALM Media, highlights weaknesses in the 'Big Law' model, with half of senior in-house lawyers witnessing political infighting between the offices of large international firms, often to the detriment of client service.
Client demand for high standards in all markets may prove problematic for 'Big Law' firms to deliver, with many retreating from certain jurisdictions. Further analysis by Legal Week Intelligence identified that 83% of the lawyers at 30 of the top 'international law firms' are based in Europe or North America, with gaps in other key markets.
General counsel revealed the difficulties they face in finding a single firm with the geographical reach in the practice areas they need. Half (50%) said that as international law firms continue to grow they become bogged down by internal operating pressures at the expense of client service. They also said they had witnessed inter-firm political wrangling, citing poor communication between teams, blocking relationships to preserve income for a particular office and a lack of joined up working as common behaviours.
As the legal market evolves, clients are becoming increasingly open-minded about using alternatives to the 'Big Law' model. Almost half (46%) said they already use or intend to use a network of independent law firms. Of those who had already worked with a global network, 77% described their experience as good or excellent, with local insight and understanding of local culture cited as the most important benefit.
Michael Siebold, chair of Interlaw, said:
"We wanted to get an honest picture of what global clients need and it's clear that quality advice in all markets is still challenging to find. But, we're encouraged that GCs recognise the strength of the network model in having the genuine global footprint they are seeking."