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ChicagoAcross the US, the last decade of the 20th century saw the biggest shake-up of the practice of corporate law in a generation. On Wall Street, the likes of Cravath Swaine & Moore and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz were pushing profitability through the roof, fuelled by the activity of the strongest financial markets in a decade. In California, ‘start-up’ law firms such as Venture Law Group and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian spent the latter part of the decade dismantling the law firm model, and rebuilding it in the image of the new economy. And throughout the decade, a new breed of global law firm – epitomised by the likes of Shearman & Sterling, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Latham & Watkins – was emerging to join the UK’s ‘magic circle’ in a new top tier of international firms.

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