London 2012 – the rise of the regional upstarts?
I read an article in The Lawyer at the start of August that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. The article was about mid-sized regional firms opening small London offices. Not in the Millennium style of wanting to join the big law firms with a plush London office, but in the “let’s nick their work” mantra of a competitive market. The idea being the London office would be more a sales office to drive work to their regional offices where the work could be done more cheaply. Thus undercutting the costs of their London based mid-tier rivals.
I posted back in early 2010 how I thought that the mid-tier would be where the real competition and innovation would start to take place. I can’t believe how little we take advantage of geography in our own country, I recall working for a utility in Yorkshire who eventually got taken over by a southern rival. Rather than locate the head office with associated costs to the cheaper northern headquarters they kept the more expensive southern base. Same goes in legal, how many London law firms still locate their IT functions in the capital? I blogged about this too in 2011 and still no major shift has happened.
The Legal IT revolution and innovation in business process within law firms in my view will remain a talking point in conferences whilst there is no movement in simple innovative cost savings. However maybe these regional upstart neighbours shaking up the London mid-tier will finally be the start of the revolution we’ve talked about since 2008?