The Magic Circle’s trans-Atlantic travails have been well documented—not least by me. I’ve been critical of the elite U.K. firms’ inability to establish themselves in the United States, where an uncharacteristic lack of strategic direction has left them as largely peripheral players, despite decades of investment.

I was over in New York last month and caught up with the U.S. management at Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters to see if anything has changed. The simple answer: yes … and no.

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