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Does the Great Recession represent a temporary adjustment—a mere hiccup—for BigLaw, or is it a fundamental disruption from which "business-as-usual" will never recover? A new report from Eversheds—Law Firm of the 21st Century: the Clients’ Revolution—concludes that we are witnessing an epochal shift.
The report identifies four principal drivers of systemic change: globalization, technology, the increasing power of in-house counsel, and The Legal Services Act (previously discussed here).
The report concluded that globalization (closely followed by the increasing status of GCs ) will be most influential:
Of course, globalisation comes in two forms — the farming out of routine, commoditised work to countries with a lower cost base and the opening of offices worldwide to serve a local client base (most notably in Asia). If you are looking for an emblematic development then it was the decision of Slaughter and May, famously shy to open international offices, to expand into China that sent a clear message that the world has changed.
On the heightened influence of GCs:
The reason that in–house lawyers are gaining higher status is because the most senior executives have realised just how important legal issues have become to the successful management of businesses. They are no longer hygiene issues but, as the growth in the importance of intellectual property demonstrates, they are now fundamental to business performance.
-posted by brian
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