Crisis unlikely to open legal market for banking work? (IBA conference update)

The crisis engulfing financial markets is impossible to predict, but tighter regulation seems inevitable - as does the ability of the leading law firms to continue bagging the work, agreed a panel at the IBA yesterday.

A question posed to the panel asked whether the demise of traditional investment banking, and thus the close relationship between the banks and the top law firms, would open the market to non-traditional competitors.

Nick Eastwell at Linklaters in London said he thought magic circle firms like his would still see most of the work. "There has been a huge decrease in caps markets transactions, and some of the more exotic forms of capital raising are gone forever," he said. "But the capital markets will continue in some form, and there is still a large body of people with tremendous expertise at the main firms - meaning they will be a step ahead whatever the markets look like. There's a very good chance we will see many of the same firms working on the deals."

Tim Massad of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP agreed, but said: "There are a lot more law firms competing than you might think - there were many more firms than investment or commercial banks, even before the crisis, so now competition will be all the fiercer."

Like many of the sessions, panellists noted the impossibility of predicting the crisis, with each weekend bringing fresh bad news for the financial markets - but we should be prepared for further problems, they agreed.

Petra Zup of Netherlands firm NautaDutilh, for example, noted that in 2009 we should see more turmoil - as year end 2008 figures are reported, that will act as a trigger to further derivative-related payments. There are not likely to be sufficient funds to meet that, which may prompt a further spate of selling.

(Source: LatinLawyer)

14 October, 2008

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