Donald Trump ()
Continental Breakfast: your daily update on what’s happening in Europe.
A shock result following a highly divisive campaign with worrying racial undertones, stock markets crashing, currency tumbling, social media in uproar…anyone else getting a strong sense of deja-vu? The Dawn of Trump: It’s like Brexit all over again.
As Trump edged towards victory, markets went into meltdown. At home, the U.S. dollar fell by more than 1 percent against the British pound and more than 3 percent against the Japanese yen. Dow futures plunged 750 points, while trading in S&P 500 futures was temporarily halted after the index fell 5 percent. It even led to Canada’s immigration website crashing as U.S. citizens frantically sought an escape route. Make America great again indeed.
The news also sent shockwaves across global markets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Trump’s comments about Mexicans and his promise to build a border wall between the two countries, the Mexican peso weakened by more than 13 percent, passing 20 pesos per dollar—its biggest fall for more than two decades. The already depressed price of crude oil dropped by more than 3 percent, while the price of gold rose by almost 5 percent—a key indicator of investor confidence being dented.
The ripples travelled as far as Asia, where Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 2.2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei index tumbled more than 5 percent—its biggest daily drop since Brexit. Trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed before the election result became clear and the impact on Chinese exchanges was less severe, but my colleague in Hong Kong, Anna Zhang, says that heavier losses are expected tomorrow. There are broader fears in Asia over what a Trump presidency will mean for the Trans Pacific Partnership—a free-trade deal between the United States and various pacific rim countries, including Australia, Japan and Singapore.
Trump’s election has led to impassioned and often vitriolic debate on social media. Sweden’s former foreign minister Carl Bildt Tweeted: “Looks like this will be the year of the double disaster of the West.”
Dentons Not Done Merging Yet
Any law firm with plans to merge over the next few years, I’d suggest you get on and do it quickly. At the rate Dentons is going, there soon won’t be any targets left.
The global giant is seemingly on a one-firm mission to consolidate the entire legal services industry. It has carried out no fewer than seven deals since the beginning of 2015, combining with with 4,000-lawyer Chinese giant Dacheng, Atlanta-based law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, Colombia’s Cárdenas & Cárdenas, Mexico’s López Velarde, Luxembourg firm OPF Partners, and carried out a three-way tie-up with Australian firm Gadens and Singapore’s Rodyk & Davidson.
The firm is now on the hunt for a Dutch merger, a move that Dentons’ European CEO Tomasz Dabrowski said would be worked on “over the next couple of months.” Speaking to The American Lawyer’s U.K. sister title Legal Week following his re-election, Tomasz said the firm is also looking to open a fourth office in Germany, either in Dusseldorf or Hamburg, and double the size of its presence in the country to around 80 partners by 2019.
Dentons’ various combinations increased the firm’s revenue by over 65 percent in the last fiscal year, from $1.28 billion to $2.12 billion, according to The American Lawyer’s latest Global 100 survey. It also almost tripled the firm’s head count, which now stands at more than 6,500 lawyers, making it comfortably the world’s largest law firm by that measure—a full 2,200 ahead of the previous holder of that title, Baker & McKenzie. The shift in its figures was so extreme that it skewed the results of the entire Global 100.
New Law Founder Joins Virtual Firm
One of the co-founders of flexible lawyering business Lawyers On Demand (LOD) is set to take on an additional role at virtual law firm Keystone Law.
Jonathan Brenner, a recruitment specialist who established LOD in 2012, will join Keystone later this month to oversee its expansion in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. He will continue to work two days a week as head of LOD’s law firm engagement team.
Although the firm does have office space, including in the U.K. and Australia, Keystone’s 200 consultant lawyers primarily use technology to work remotely. Keystone managing director James Knight told Legal Week that the firm plans to open up to three offices in 2017: one in the U.K. or Ireland, one in continental Europe and possibly another in Asia. Its headcount is likely to increase by around 30 percent over the next 12 months, he added.
LOD started as a department within U.K. law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner that provided a pool of freelance lawyers to help clients more flexibly manage their in-house legal departments, before spinning off in 2012 to form a stand-alone company. Brenner, then BLP’s head of recruitment, left the firm as part of that move alongside BLP technology partner and LOD co-founder Simon Harper to manage the business full time. The pair took a 20 percent stake in the new entity, with BLP retaining a majority stake of just under 80 percent.
LOD has expanded significantly since its spinoff and this February merged with Australia’s AdventBalance—itself the product of a 2012 merger between Perth-based Balance Legal and Sydney-based Advent Lawyers, which were founded in 2008 by former Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) partner Ken Jagger and Allen & Overy business development head John Knox, respectively. The deal created one of the world’s largest new law businesses, with offices in London, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. LOD followed the combination by launching Spoke, a new online legal marketplace that allows freelance lawyers to connect directly with clients.
The business currently has 600 lawyers and consultants on its books, and more than 500 corporate and law firm clients. It is now looking at launching in the U.S. market.
LOD faces increasing competition from specialist businesses such as Axiom, while a growing number of law firms have also begun offering similar services.
In 2010, Eversheds launched Agile, which the firm subsequently rolled out in Hong Kong and Singapore. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer established Freshfields Continuum in 2012, drawing on 3,500 alumni to provide additional staffing during busy periods. In 2013, Pinsent Masons set up its fast-growing Vario business, and Allen & Overy entered the fray with Peerpoint. DLA Piper had announced that it was also going to launch a flexible working unit, but scrapped the plans last November and entered into a joint venture with LOD instead.