Demise of the Magic Circle?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by themagician, Mar 23, 2020.

  1. themagician

    themagician New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I've read loads of posts on TCLA, read an article comparing the NY Elite and the Magic Circle, and spoken to a few trainees that I know, and all of it has painted a bleak picture for the Magic Circle over the next decade or so, with US firms seemingly gradually but inevitably 'taking over' top end London legal work. A lot of it has made it seem like the end is coming for all five firms and that they're going to fade away into obscurity.

    While recognising that each of the five firms are different, I think my work style and personality is far more suited to the Magic Circle. However, I'm just a little concerned after hearing so many negative things about their future competitiveness (or lack thereof?).

    Ultimately, I'm not sure what/who to believe. Are the Magic Circle really on an inevitable decline? Will they continue to be considered part of the world's elite? The problem I have described aside, I would prefer the Magic Circle any day of the week over a top US firm, from a personal fit perspective. Nonetheless, should I be applying to the top US firms, for the detailed reasons?

    Any comments or help is appreciated.
     
    #1 themagician, Mar 23, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
  2. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    I don't think that the five firms you refer to have a bleak future at all. They are leading the way in tech and innovation and are still working alongside the likes of the US firms you discuss (Freshfields and Latham (as well as Arthur Cox) are working together advising Aon on a mega-merger with Willis Towers Watson). Yes, some of the US firms have higher revenues but the revenues being achieved by UK origin firms are also strong and aren't to be overlooked.

    Finding the firm for you is all about fit and what you want out of your training and future career. If you are in a position to say you think that the style of training at the MC is right for you then I think you have your answer :)
     
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  3. Alison_a

    Alison_a Standard Member

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  4. themagician

    themagician New Member

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    Thank you very much for the input! I have a TC offer from one of the magic circle firms after a vac scheme and really loved the culture, fit and work, but recently have just been a little spooked. Lots of people on TCLA and Legal Cheek (in particular) make the top UK origin firms seem doomed.

    Congratulations on Freshfields btw :)
     
  5. themagician

    themagician New Member

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  6. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Thank you and well done on your offer too! :)
     
  7. Sam55

    Sam55 Standard Member

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    I would say if you have a TC with a magic circle firm you should definitely take it. MC firms still have better training and excellent pay (even if it is slightly less than at US firms but after taxes the difference isn’t huge). If there really is a significant decline in MC market share due to US firms taking it, US firms would undoubtedly need to make lateral hires to keep up and you’d be in a great position to go down that route if you want to in the future.
     
  8. Romiras

    Romiras Star Member
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    You should focus on securing a training contract first (at any place that suits your desires). You can apply to all (or none, or just one), after all. Realistically, I think most people are going to struggle to secure a TC at either types of firms - therefore often the question is determined by what kind of offers you have.

    I think you're conflating two things: The Magic Circle's "decline" in the London legal market and "being considered part of the world's elite". Generally, if you went to the East like Asia (the world is a lot bigger than the US and the UK!), the Magic Circle firms are more known, more present and arguably control a much larger market share relative to their US counterparts. They are certainly considered 'elite' there. They will also be considered elite in the UK (they're still market leaders). But turn to consider the US legal market, and the Magic Circle, at best, could only be considered a mid market player (with many having middle of the pack Vault rankings, if you subscribe to the publication's value). Therefore, is being part of the world's elite determined on whether you're a market leader in every jurisdiction? Surely not. The likes of Cravath and the V5 would also fail to meet that benchmark.

    The US market is the largest legal market in the world (naturally, as it is also the largest economy). That will naturally have implications (as some of the largest corporate and financial institutions are giving key mandates to historically US firms - where they're also based in). This question of MC firms declining and US firms rising is therefore innately skewed towards the US firms if we're basing it off deal count and deal value. It seems less like a question and more like a pre-determined (and known) fact masquerading as a question.

    Truthfully, these types of questions are often inconsequential to most people (practically speaking) and are largely argued less on facts and more on personal pride and vested interests. Just focus on securing any training contract at any firm: (i) that does the type of work that you want, (ii) that has the clients you want to work for, etc - and don't fall into the trap of elitist measuring.
     
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  9. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment

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    They were saying this over a decade ago...

    You are not tied to a MC firm or US firm for life - which ever route you choose for a training contract, you could transfer over to the other fad an associate/partner.

    Whether on the up or going down, it’s not going to impact your early career - these things would take career lifetimes to change
     
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