Since Hanover Legal’s founding in 2000, we have together experienced traumas that have shaken the foundations of BigLaw including the bursting of the dot-com bubble, 9/11, Enron, WorldCom, a war in Iraq and a global financial crisis — but none has impacted BigLaw like Covid 19.
When Covid made its ugly debut a year and a half ago, BigLaw’s reaction was predictable; fat cutting in the form of hiring freezes and layoffs, shedding real estate, re-prioritizing practice strengths and reinvigorized courting of old reliable and potential paying clients. No pundit however imagined that the following year and a half would see record BigLaw revenue and profits and firms leaner, meaner, with more cash-in-hand then ever before. See, for example: https://www.berdonllp.com/the-pandemic-paradox-law-firm-profits-rise-despite-covid-19/.; and see https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2021/01/25/the-lessons-and-implications-of-big-laws-stunning-2020-profitability/, and https://www.economist.com/business/2021/07/15/americas-elite-law-firms-are-booming.
Moreover, BigLaw attorneys have been happier and more productive then ever as well. By and large they are comfortable using the various video-meeting platforms and don’t miss business travel and schlepping into the office every day. And why would they? Video-meetings are more cost and time efficient and pose no risk of contracting highly contagious and potentially lethal diseases, and what can beat working from home? And if any attorney is unhappy with their current firm for whatever reason, the cherry on the cake is that lateral hiring is booming . See: https://www.law360.com/articles/1400812/lateral-hiring-plunged-in-2020-but-strong-rebound-underway, and https://www.americanbar.org/groups/journal/articles/2021/new-data-shows-lateral-associate-hiring-happening-across-the-board/, and https://news.bloomberglaw.com/business-and-practice/surging-in-big-cities-lateral-hiring-is-a-hunt-for-higher-rates.
So as we ask the age-old question “Who knew?” we express our continuing gratitude for being privileged to remain on this journey with our BigLaw clients and reiterate our commitment to assist in any way while we navigate during these interesting times.
As the world struggles to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic and societies world-wide adapt in order to minimize risk of infection while remaining as productive as possible under the circumstances, most major law firms continue to recruit. What has changed primarily during this highly infectious crisis is merely the basic mechanics; firms are increasingly opting for telephone interviews instead of in-person meetings.
Perhaps more significantly, law firms like other entities are employing a gamut of strategic approaches to this crisis as in any other crisis; some viewing it as an opportunity to take advantage of diminished competition to recruit even more aggressively and realize gains that may have been unattainable in a relatively calm and stable environment, others plodding forward as if it’s business as usual, while a few more skittish players have paused recruiting altogether promising to reconvene only once the crisis has stabilized. We remind the attorneys we are privileged to represent that while we live in interesting times and how we react during heightened uncertainty can be defining to us, the same applies to the firms they are considering joining, this time of crisis providing a rarely available window for due diligence with respect to a firm’s culture and their way of conducting business.
We urge our law firm and attorney clients alike to proceed with the mindset that this too shall pass, and to resist the temptation to put recruiting on hold. On the contrary, view this as an opportunity to make particularly attractive gains in a largely panicked market that will likely be unavailable again until long after we have come to grips with this crisis as we have all the others that have preceded it.
Since Hanover Legal’s founding is 2000, we have together survived a number of other crises and can fully expect to see a few more once this one too has faded into memory. We assure all of you that as our understanding of the Coronavirus continues to evolve, we will remain on board with you here as well and eager to assist you in any way.
Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Eversheds Sutherland did it. So can Allen & O’Melveny.
Of the few brave US firms that have bitten the bullet with a partner from across the pond, only one has maintained their cultural identity as half of a merger of equals. As to the others, most attorneys today have never even heard of Rogers & Wells, the once great Fulbright has been thoroughly digested by Norton Rose, and Eversheds views Sutherland as a curious outpost. The jury is still out on Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, although we believe Bryan Cave stands an excellent chance at survival as it is more evenly matched with its counterpart and also has an easier name to remember.
The next transatlantic merger is a matter of time, and while their respective Chairmen continue to offer vociferous denials, Vegas has an Allen & Overy – O’Melveny tie up before the end of 2019 at better than even odds. But to the extent names matter – and they do – O’Melveny should be quivering to the alter because even if they manage to maintain cultural prowess with a firm three times their size, the new partnership will be perpetually known as “A&O” anyway.
In the meantime, we appreciate the good sense of major firm leaders to refrain from discussing their courtships and marital woes in public, as we have sufficient law firm dysfunction entertainment from our firebrand litigation boutiques and from time to time the megalomaniacs from whom they have managed to break away.
Be what may, we look forward to continuing on this journey with all of our attorney and law firm clients, and wish everyone smooth sailing during the second half of 2019!