If lawyers were tech entrepreneurs they would conclude their years of hard work by selling the brand they had built. The largest law firms may be lucky enough not to have debt worries, nor investors hoping for a return, but the inability to cash in on a valuable partnership brand will always deny partners that huge lump sum.

In the U.K. it is possible for partners to take this route, of course. For many years law firms have been able to float and take external investment, but few have actually done so, not least because no leader wants to be known as the one that sold the family silver.