The Perfect Law Firm – Part 3

3 Nov 2014

If today’s law firm leaders could start again and rebuild the perfect the law firm, what would they do differently? The Lawyer asked several of today’s biggest legal names this very question and this is a summary of what they said…

Is partnership the right model for a 21st century legal services provider?

Chris Saul (Senior Partner Slaughter and May) – “the partnership model is right for the 21st century… It means that all the owners are driven… and clients appreciate the partnership approach.”

Tim Eyles (managing partner at Taylor Wessing) – “I like the partnership model. It creates a sense of ownership.”

Simon Beswick (Managing Partner and CEO at Osborne Clarke) – “It will be for some areas of the market but not for all.”

Richard Masters (head of client operations Pinsent Masons) – “Different models will suit different situations.”

Simon Davies (managing partner at Linklaters) – “Every operating model needs adapting sooner or later… I believe lockstep firms have a real advantage in implementing lasting change.”

John Schorah (managing partner at Weightmans) – “Most law firms have moved to some form of corporate structure even within the partnership model… the model has challenges, such as profit retention.”

David Patient (managing partner at Travers Smith) – “For the time being, yes, although I’m sure we will see different types of legal services in the future.”

Guy Stobart (CEO of Kennedys) – “No. Unless you see LLP as a partnership structure.” 

Duncan Weston (managing partner of CMS) – “Global firms should be structured around the Verein concept.”


In the last episode we said that firms are tinkering when they should be innovating.

Partnership is not dead and we agree with Tim Eyles that a Partnership (or LLP) has a particular feel to it.

What they need to come to terms with is that the days when a business can generate a brilliant lifestyle for 50 or 100 owners, most of whom take out more from the business than they put into it, are over.

Smaller and mid sized firms, boutique firms and one or two very high end firms can operate as Partnerships.

Large multi national firms which are essentially high quality processing businesses cannot.

Whatever the legal structure they need to operate as corporates and deal with profit and income in the way that corporates would.

How many equity partners does Capita have?

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Part 4, looks at another aspect of structure. Is full service still viable or is boutique the way forward?