In September last year, the partners at Mishcon de Reya voted to float the firm on the London Stock Exchange – one of the most significant pieces of news in the legal sector for many years. Mishcon is a major legal brand with a profile that will make it the most notable law firm to so far go public.
Those of us who keep a close eye on the legal profession could be excused for being a little disappointed that the Mischon listing has now been delayed due to current volatile market conditions. As we all know, law firms tend to move at some speed to keep pace when a competitor breaks ranks – which other firms would have made a decision to list if Mishcon’s shares had performed well? We can all speculate – probably inaccurately – and it would be foolish of me to make my predictions public!
From a communications professional’s perspective the prospect of law firms taking on external capital at scale is fascinating. If you are in-house then your stakeholder base and therefore those you need to keep happy is (largely) partners, staff, the media and (indirectly) clients and the regulatory authorities. All these audiences present their own challenges but the addition of investors and/or shareholders to that list in my mind will be transformational to the legal communications profession. In my career I have worked with private equity and for a major listed financial institution and the investor relations side of both industries is absolutely critical and requires a very different skillset to the classic law firm inhouse communications role.
I’ll conclude with a bold prediction – in five years’ time the law firm communications career path will look very different than it does now. Instead of recruiting undoubtedly talented professionals from competitors, law firms will also scour the FTSE, asset management and private equity firms for talent. The ability to protect the share price through a skilled response to a major issue or keep vocal investors happy when a team of partners departs to a rival will be near the top of many job specs.