Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

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SamuelDanforth

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Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by SamuelDanforth » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:49 pm

Obviously much will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations and London's post-Brexit role in the world financial order, but what do folks think will be the mid-term effects of Brexit on London's legal market for Americans? Will American or British firms still hire US-qualified attorneys for roles in white collar / FCPA, capital markets, cross-border MA, investment fund management, etc? Or will those jobs shrink as firms move more attorneys to Paris, Brussels, etc?

synergy

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by synergy » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:36 pm

SamuelDanforth wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:49 pm
Obviously much will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations and London's post-Brexit role in the world financial order, but what do folks think will be the mid-term effects of Brexit on London's legal market for Americans? Will American or British firms still hire US-qualified attorneys for roles in white collar / FCPA, capital markets, cross-border MA, investment fund management, etc? Or will those jobs shrink as firms move more attorneys to Paris, Brussels, etc?
I don't have any thoughts on this but I'm interested in this as well. Just out of curiosity, why would British firms hire US qualified lawyers for investment funds? Does this happen?

SamuelDanforth

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by SamuelDanforth » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:01 pm

I don't know if any British firms do this, but Kirkland has a handful of US-qualified investment fund attorneys in the UK. I presume to serve clients with US & UK presences, e.g. Blackstone, KKR, etc (not saying these are KE clients, just big funds with London offices).

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:55 pm

SamuelDanforth wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:49 pm
Obviously much will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations and London's post-Brexit role in the world financial order, but what do folks think will be the mid-term effects of Brexit on London's legal market for Americans? Will American or British firms still hire US-qualified attorneys for roles in white collar / FCPA, capital markets, cross-border MA, investment fund management, etc? Or will those jobs shrink as firms move more attorneys to Paris, Brussels, etc?
I left Europe in early 2020 and have not done much to keep up with the craze post-Covid.
London's EU CapM is collapsing and moving to Paris and Frankfurt, i.e. jurisdictions where MiFID II (EU securities law) is still valid. UK's post-Brexit efforts to negotiate bilateral agreements that can act in lieu of MiFID II have fallen completely flat. There's nothing in sight that this will change soon, but it's one barometer of change.
Last I talked to UK hiring partners of US firms and reps from the London SE, their goal was to make up for EU market loss by attracting markets in Asia. While a great idea in principle, I see two huge problems with that. First, this pits attorneys at London offices in direct competition with the Asia offices of their own firms. Last I checked, the Asia offices were staffed with attorneys of superior language and legal skills - superior to recruit and cater to those clients. Best case scenario, there'll be camaraderie and cooperation across offices for revenue but this is big law so LOL.
What's more, London offices still think they're London. Hubris. As recent as Oct 2019, HongKong SE made an overt move to buy up the entire London SE and make it a satellite. Yeah HK retracted their bid but it was a wake-up call of how London SE is just one acquisition away. And when that happens, what work remains to be done for our monolingual JD friends in London that can't be handled better by bilingual folks at the HK and NY offices?

Edit. Accidental anon use, please change.

SamuelDanforth

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by SamuelDanforth » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:42 pm

Thanks for the insight. Definitely what I worried about with respect to C/M.

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:32 am

SamuelDanforth wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:42 pm
Thanks for the insight. Definitely what I worried about with respect to C/M.
US attorneys in London for anything other than capital markets are very few (including other corporate areas like M&A). Not to say those roles don't exist at all, but realistically the only reliable churn of positions for US attorneys in London is in capital markets, and that business is also in long-term decline, and maybe short to medium-term decline in light of Brexit and the current market upheaval, although time will tell. US folks that end up in London typically have a motivation like family to be in the UK or Europe, but as a practical matter you're in a small employment market and it's a sacrifice in terms of career development and security relative to the same work in the States, so it's more a matter of determining if the tradeoff is worth it.

New_Englander

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by New_Englander » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:24 pm

Does anyone know how difficult it is to land a job as a US JD in PE or some other funds work in London? From what I've read in this thread it seems those positions are more attainable in the London offices of US firms as opposed to Magic Circle firms (which I hear have better QOL). What about getting in-house positions in London in PE?

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 31, 2020 1:40 am

Investment funds work in London is not hard to get if you work for a big firm with an office there. The work is basically the same in the US and UK, just with the added layer of MIFID and AIFMD advice you have to give. But the fund structuring and drafting is really similar to the US. Right now this is a really busy practice area. However, to convince your firm to transfer you, you have to have a compelling reason to go, like family reasons.

I’ve been in the funds industry for a while and know very few US folks who have moved in house to the UK. I would imagine it’s much easier to get those jobs once you’ve worked in biglaw there and had a chance to network.

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Re: Future of US-Qualified Biglaw Work in London

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 1:40 am
Investment funds work in London is not hard to get if you work for a big firm with an office there. The work is basically the same in the US and UK, just with the added layer of MIFID and AIFMD advice you have to give. But the fund structuring and drafting is really similar to the US. Right now this is a really busy practice area. However, to convince your firm to transfer you, you have to have a compelling reason to go, like family reasons.

I’ve been in the funds industry for a while and know very few US folks who have moved in house to the UK. I would imagine it’s much easier to get those jobs once you’ve worked in biglaw there and had a chance to network.
If you have demonstrable PE experience and you're already based in the UK then I think you're perceived as a credible candidate for positions that are hiring in London. I have heard a PE fund deal exec express the opinion that you really just need an attorney who knows what commercial terms are typical in Europe vs in the US and can structure deal in whatever the context demands, but whether they're UK or US lawyers is irrelevant. I was receiving PE recruiter calls within a year of moving (within biglaw) to London, and to be honest I was surprised how little the practice varies between US and UK aside from learning how typical deal structures differ at the margins. Visa issues are also easier being a foreigner coming to the UK than a non-American looking for a job in the US, so I think that makes recruitment a little less tense across the industry.

Not sure if all in compensation is worse in the UK - I'd suspect it is, just given my sense of US vs. UK compensation in all legal roles. To the above poster's point, I moved due to a spouse, and I wouldn't have moved otherwise, and my US-qualified colleagues have similar stories on the whole.

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