Global 100: The English advantage
In a downturn, business people like to point out, some truths are laid bare. "You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out," Warren Buffett famously told investors in a 2002 letter. Which is why, after the 2000 dotcom crash, it was the City's elite that were found to be revealing a little too much skin.This time, it is different. After madly shedding partners, doubling-down their bets on foreign offices and tightening their management controls, the big four magic circle firms - Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance (CC), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters - look a little better-dressed than many of their rivals in the US. The irony is that the English law firms have succeeded by following the lesson of their American peers: they have hedged their bets. For US law firms, in the past that has meant a healthy dose of litigation and bankruptcy work to balance a corporate shortfall. For UK law firms, the strategy has been geographic: spreading their risk across several continents.
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