Fides Weekly Update – 13th November 2015


Welcome back to the Fides Weekly Update. Here’s this week’s must-read legal and business news brought to you by our Research team:

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1) DLA pave the way for a more flexible legal offering

DLA Piper announced this week they will be teaming up with Lawyers On Demand (LOD) to provide a contract lawyer service, with a view to use DLA alumni alongside the LOD’s existing pool of freelance lawyers.

DLA have decided to take a different approach to agile working compared to their competitors, who are building their own contract lawyer businesses, such as Eversheds’ Agile and Pinsent Masons’ Vario. DLA Piper’s director of service delivery and quality Stephen Allen told The Lawyer that working with LOD will allow them “to deliver something holistic and of high quality” as “they’ve seen it, done it, they’ve got several t-shirts”.

Through this deal, LOD, owned by Berwin Leighton Paisner, will have the opportunity to offer their services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, providing them with a great incentive to developing an international capability.

2) MiFID II shifts down a gear

News broke on Tuesday that the European Commission are considering delaying the implementation date for MiFID II. It appears that a delay may be necessary as the European Securities Market Authority claims the timetable is unfeasible and financial institutions need a sufficient amount of time to build the necessary IT systems.

Furthermore, the proposed regulatory standards under the regime haven’t even been finalised, which means there is a lot of work that remains to be done by not only the banks, but also the regulators.

Pushing back the target from January 2017 to January 2018 may be a wise decision, although some are arguing the delay could cause a loss of momentum. Certain policymakers are backing a piecemeal approach, saying that all chapters of MiFID II shouldn’t have to be delayed equally.

Bloomberg explains that the aim of MiFID II is “to boost transparency and fundamentally alter how equity, debt, derivatives and commodities are traded, cleared and reported throughout the European Economic Area.”

City AM have provided an overview.

3) The Americans get cold feet

Last week’s speculations that Foley & Lardner and Eversheds were in merger discussions has come to an end, with Legal Business reporting that Foley CEO Jay Rothman has stated the firm “are not interested in engaging in further discussions on that topic.”

The US firm claimed that “no decision was ever made by Foley to pursue such an affiliation” and they remain “committed to our strategic objective of expanding the global reach of our firm to better serve our clients.”

It was reported that Eversheds had whittled the potential merger candidates down to two, with Foley & Lardner emerging as the front-runners. Eversheds said in a statement: “We have made our position clear, whilst we appreciate that there will be speculation on our progress, a number of options remain open to us.”

4) ‘Big Four’ prove worthy opponents

James Tsolakis, head of legal services at RBS, has revealed his thoughts on the shake-up accountancy houses have caused in the legal market, Legal Futures reports.

Tsolakis mentioned in his annual review that the rise of non-legal firms taking on an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status has created “intense competition” in the market, particularly with mid-tier law firms. However, the mid-tier have fought back by performing a high number of mergers as well as significant lateral hiring. This response paired with their innovative structures and business models is described by Tsolakis as “little short of spectacular”.

He went on to say that although the current strategy of accountancy firms involves focusing on areas that complement their practices, the “smart money” will be in competing with the magic-circle and other top firms over the more lucrative transactional practice areas, after having taken sufficient market share from the mid-tier.

5) FTSE 250’s favourite firms revealed

Earlier this week, the Lawyer published the rankings of the top firms by client relationships within the FTSE 250.

The findings were sourced from three years’ worth of deals, litigation and panel information, and will make up the first part of the Lawyer’s data and research product, The Lawyer Market Intelligence.

It shows the top five firms to have the highest number of client relationships in the FTSE 250 to be: Slaughter and May, Linklaters, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Pinsent Masons. Click to view full table.

The articles notes that being a company’s official solicitor is no longer an indication of a strong relationship. Ken Woodier, Group General Counsel at Pennon says, “We very much work on the basis of personal relationships. We know the major firms out there very well and tend to target those we want to engage rather than having a formal panel.”

Thanks for tuning in and watch out for the next Fides Weekly Update!

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