Big Bang led to the disappearance of many British finance household names as the American banks came over and bought them up. Now the competition is a hotter because in addition to investment banks we've got private equity funds and hedge funds and various derivatives' specialists. MacEwen compares law firms to utilities, good, steady income streams.
Big Bank took everyone by surprise (it was only meant to be a minor change in the Stock Exchange rulebook). And the Brits weren't prepared for the onslaught. They are about to do it again.
Let's face it: law firms are populated by intelligent people but are they worldly-wise? No. Once they take the banks' shilling--and they will despite what they say--law firms are in for a big shock. Over time I see the prospect of the following happening:
- the erosion of partnership. Banks are corporate entities, so what do they need with bureaucratically wasteful entities? Employee status looms
- lockstep--what was that? Eat what you kill and hope to get your bonus just like any other banker
- the ultimate abandonment of any pretense of maintaining any professional ideals. Add in the encroachment of tougher money-laundering rules and one can envisage the lawyer-client privilege disappearing like a teenager's last pimple before adulthood.