Will legal partnerships go the same way as property partnerships?Posted on: June 11, 2011
The property media is buzzing this week with the news of King Sturge (master of the industrial property – sorry American readers – real estate market) becoming a part of Jones Lang LaSalle to make a combined business with 2,827 staff.
Property Week focused on the state of the agency market with a round up of the performance of the top 60 commercial properties agencies during 2010-2011. Total UK turnover was £2.3 billion which shows a rise of 10% – not too shabby. Especially when the total number of staff employed (21.5K) rose only by 1%. Seems efficiency is a real management agenda item.
Estates Gazette, on the other hand, presented a timeline of the partnerships of the past. I felt a particular closeness to this coverage as I was personally involved in a number of the major transactions and mergers. The chart starts in 1997 when Richard Ellis (which had previously absorbed one of my earliest partnership clients – St Quintin) and the 1998 combination of the mighty Jones Land Wootton with US corporation LaSalle Partners. The fates of Hillier Parker, Healey & Baker (into US associate Cushman & Wakefield) and Lambert Smith Hampton are noted before one with which I was an integral part – the sale of Weatherall Green & Smith to French company Vendome Rome in 2001 to create Atisreal to become the largest pan-European property consultancy (which was later acquired by French bank BNP Paribas).
The chart continues with other long established partnerships – Chesterton, Donaldsons, Nelson Bakewell – converting to corporate structures and being acquired by others – often from outside the property business. Then, of course, there was the creation of a stunning multi-disciplinary partnership when Drivers Jonas merges with Deloitte in January 2010.
So the majority of the mighty property partnerships gave up their business model to embrace the corporate world, avail themselves to external finance and to nestle within the global reach of their American (and French) colleagues.
The legal market has been through a period of unparalleled change which continues unabated and with the impact of the Legal Services Act yet to even start. Will legal partnerships go the same way?