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Some 10 years or so ago, the prevailing view in the legal community was that to undertake the best quality legal work in the future, it was essential to have own-branded offices in a large number of different countries. In doing so, law firms were simply copying the large accounting firms and large corporations – for understandable reasons. Many English and US law firms embarked on a headlong rush to set up new offices or to merge with existing organisations overseas – with mixed results and causing fundamental changes to their culture. A handful of firms, including Travers Smith, concluded that it was possible to obtain a decent share of the best work by adopting a different approach, the key ingredients of which were a resolute focus on their existing strengths, operating principally from one financial centre and developing a network of like-minded firms in other countries. The evidence appears to show that there is room at the top of the legal market for both models to operate successfully.

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