American law firms: overpaid, over here and taking over?

January 9, 2008 Among her 300 million citizens, America finds room for 2.2 million prisoners, half a million soldiers — and 1.1 million lawyers, increasing numbers of whom find their way across the Atlantic. From Park Lane to Mincing Lane, US law firms now deploy 3,900 lawyers in London. While one Washington wag labels them “our most ominous export”, some predict that, short of full-blown recession, their number may double within five years. Rainmakers in finance, tax and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have been charmed away by Cadwalader, Kirkland & Ellis, Skadden, Arps and Simpson Thacher. The result? US firms’ annual London billings comfortably exceed £1.2 billion, while 100 or more of their local partners are in the £1 million-a-year club.


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