With 6 law firms currently listed, and major players such as Mischon de Reya suggested to have been considering the possibility of floating on the London Stock Exchange since last summer, with the coming of spring showers could it soon be raining IPOs in the legal industry? The below quote (from an article published in March last year summarising some of the key considerations in law firm listings), highlights the seemingly incongruous fit between traditional law firms and investors seeking to generate and share in their wealth.
Yet, those whom can best adapt to the challenges and opportunities of a changing World will invariably be the ones profiting the most. It also presents law firms (particularly those whom operate in the corporate and commercial sphere) with the perfect opportunity to show off our wares in the putting together of complex, multi-faceted deals.
One of the main reasons why IPOs have been so challenging for the legal industry is the existential tension between what has always been and what is to come. Partnerships look first to short-term profit and cash extraction, and then to investing for the future, which severely restricts the ability to grow the capital value of the business to any great extent. Equally, investors typically do not like the fact that the value in a law firm is almost all based in its people, including those outside of the lock-in. Despite this, six law firms have successfully floated and raised such a huge amount of cash that they could immediately pay out capital accounts, clear overdrafts and still have investment capital to spare...but, given what happened to accountancy firms floated in the 2000s, some law firm partners might have concerns.