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Law firm flotations could help attract top lawyer talent through mega-money share options, survey findings suggest

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As rumours surrounding Mishcon IPO continue

There are “many good reasons” why large law firms may consider a stock market flotation, according to the results of a new survey, including an “enhanced ability” to attract top lawyer talent through potentially lucrative share options.

The findings, collated by accountancy outfit Smith & Williamson, also suggests that an initial public offering (IPO) may “negate the need for mergers as a route to growth”, an option it says is often “disliked” by law firm partners.

It claims that the traditional limited liability partnership (LLP) model does not possess the “decision-making agility of a public limited company (PLC)”, arguing that attempting to secure consensus across the partnership — which could be northwards of 500 people — can be “cumbersome” and create too a narrow a focus on annual results rather than long-term investment.

The survey, completed by over 130 managing partners and senior managers, did, however, accept that an uptick in law firm flotations was unlikely anytime soon, with over half of respondents (58%) indicating they would likely still be an LLP in three to five years time.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The research comes after Mishcon de Reya reignited flotation rumours last week with the announcement that it was overhauling its management structures. The outfit, which is understood to be considering a number of capital-raising options, including an IPO, confirmed it was transferring management power from its very senior staff to its practice groups.

Kevin Gold, managing partner, said:

“We’ve grown significantly over the past decade and more but our management structures haven’t changed. We are now devolving responsibility to our numerous practice groups and the next generation of leaders within them. Whilst this is an internal exercise, it will enable us to best anticipate and respond to the needs of our clients.”

A listing would see Mishcon join a number of big legal players already found on the public market, including Gateley, Keystone Law, Rosenblatt Solicitors, Knights Law and DWF.

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15 Comments

Mr steal your girl

Why would firms benefit from this

(7)(0)

Hooner

Because the firm can now access a pool of money raised at IPO to invest

(3)(1)

Angus, Exeter University LL.B.

Realistically are you going to be in line for a more lucrative package joining a post IPO Mishcon as a mid level associate or joining Kirkland as a mid level associate? Would genuinely be interested to know.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Kirkland, by miles.

However, if you want to make it to the board, arguably it’s possible to make more money in a plc than an LLP, as you get paid in equity stake (rather than buying stake and being paid cash).

The Big 4, which are far more obvious float candidates, have stuck with partnerships for a reason though.

(5)(0)

anon

The tax advantages, slowly diminishing.

(2)(0)

The Least Qualified

Imagine a world of publicly listed law firms, even more of a shambles than they already are. One data breach or controversy and you’ll see management squirming lol

(5)(0)

Just a nice lad

Also the case that during a downturn you’ll see scores of associates given the sack at a plc

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Thats going to happen at the next downturn regardless,particularly because most firms are bloated due to the PE boom. Come the next recession its going to be a bloodbath.

(2)(3)

tips@legalcheek.com

One questions – how do you pick such irrelevant pictures for your articles?

My theory is that someone from the LC staff (Alex?) cuts off a chicken’s head and let the decapitated chicken run on the board with standard set of pictures while the other (Tom?) plays a Yakety Sax tune on a kazoo until the chicken stops at some picture. Am I correct?

(16)(0)

Anonymous

What are you on about? A stock image of a man in an ill fitting suit looking like he just scored the winner in the last minute of the Champions League final perfectly sums this article up.

(4)(0)

Mr Banjo

Such a bad suit, so early 2000s

(1)(0)

Mishcon Associate

Mishcon IPO – not stonks

(2)(0)

Associate

The arguements don’t stack up very well, matured plcs are beholden to shareholders (and maintaing dividend payments) and, as a result, are often short termist in their behaviour and firms are usually run by a managing board rather than the full engagement of each and every partner.

(4)(0)

Kirkland NQ

Since when was there a view taken that interests in law firms could be bought and sold like some kind of freely tradeable security. Absurd.

(3)(0)

Sir Patrick Star QC

I would certainly but shares in blue chip firms such as Slaughter and May, Kirkland and Ellis, and CMS.

(3)(1)

Comments are closed.

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