To many lawyers in Asia, the best solution to extremely high levels of competition—and the consequent low fees—in the region’s major markets is simple: wait for the competition to leave. At some point, the thinking goes, a number of international firms will realize that the modest success they’ve managed to achieve in Asia doesn’t merit the continued commitment in terms of cost and resources. These “weaker” firms will then depart, leaving a bigger pie for everyone else.
The Great Shakeout was predicted not long after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. If stable practices back home had been, in many instances, subsidizing money-losing investments in Asia, then a crisis affecting their home markets would lead at least some firms to retreat, right?