Before we leap into the final category of firms in our taxonomy—”synergistic super-boutiques”—let’s recur to first principles and re-state what we’re trying to solve for.

The issue is what do firms do to (in Darwinian order):

  • (a) avoid extinction;
  • (b) eke out a marginal existence;
  • (c) remain relevant;
  • (d) continue to perform about as well as before;
  • (e) take market share from competitors; and, at the top of the food chain:
  • (f) significantly reinvent themselves so as to deliver value to clients heretofore not available.

We may be witnessing this dynamic playing out more quickly in the City of London than we do in the US (at least for now….), with the availability of outside capital in England and Wales accelerating the market’s winnowing genius. Just this past week I had breakfast with the former managing partner of an AmLaw 50, who spent a large portion of his time building his US firm’s London office, and who observes that the UK market has seen “a decade’s worth of change compressed into three years—and not all of those firms may know how to respond.”

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