Press reports today say Fulbright will merge with Norton Rose. Last week came the news that SNR Denton will merge with Salans (Europe) and Fraser Milner (Canada). What will this mean for client experience and service delivery? 

We now see the rise of ever larger, multinational law firms. Many say that these “global platforms” offer clients numerous benefits. That may be so but in my observation, law firm mergers are complicated and distracting. Integrating cultures, practices, business operations, and finances takes times, often years.

So we need to ask how these mega-mergers benefit clients, especially in the short term. I hear clients demanding, first and foremost, better value and greater efficiency. If the global platform law firms can deliver this, it will take time.

Firms not joining up with a mega platform may therefore have a short-term opportunity to gain share. Without the distraction of a merger, firms can improve client experience with better service delivery: project management, pricing, alternative resourcing, knowledge management, client-facing and practice-supporting technology, and business intelligence, to name a few necessary programmatic improvements.

Firms also need to reduce overhead, which means assessing real support needs and streamlining business support services. (For example, yesterday the UK legal press reported that DLA Piper will consolidate its document production in a single location.)

The rapidly changing legal landscape creates threats and opportunities. Smart law firms will work on improving service delivery to keep their top clients happy and gain share of wallet from them.