Honeyed words from Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, in-house head of legal at the multi-billion-pound international Hinduja Group. ‘There is a global respect for English law and London lawyers are the most experienced in the world,’ he told delegates at the Law Society’s International Marketplace Conference last week.
Yet the global market is not without its challenges – magic circle colossus Clifford Chance has just reported a 9% dip in profit per equity partner, for example, a performance it described as ‘disappointing’.
So, are London lawyers too expensive? Mukhopadhyay suggests they need to be alive to this perception. There should be more used of fixed fees, he believes.
National firm Eversheds partner Howard Barrie also sounded a note of caution. He wonders whether ‘the sun is about to set on the English legal empire’. ‘Host country’ firms are growing in size and competence.
The government is not helping indigenous firms, with bungled legal aid reforms that the City of London Law Society warns pose ‘a potentially irreversible risk to the standards and reputation of English justice’.
Chancery Lane chief Desmond Hudson is surely right, therefore, to counsel against ‘basking in the glory’ of London. Our pre-eminence is not set in stone. We need to keep working at it.