2018 Predicted to End The Magic Circle of Law Firms
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The “magic circle” is an informal term for a set of UK firms — Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance , Freshfields Bruchhaus Deringer, Linklaters , and Slaughter and May – who are leaders in the field, and among the most prestigious. But The Lawyer predicts that by 2018 they will be “magic” no more. That publication, which has also coined the phrase “Sweet Sixteen,” as shorthand, in their Transatlantic Elite research, for firms that profited per equity partner (PEP) at £1m or higher, thinks that while the coinage “magic circle” might linger, the dynamic of the group is changing, and notably, firms like Clifford Chance aren’t earning as much as their rivals, while Slaughter and May is half the size of the rest.

Since Slaughter does not quite fit in with the other 4, and since Clifford Chance is slipping, the magic circle isn’t quite so magical as before, and of course the market is always evolving. That is why The Lawyer predicts the global elite of of 2023 will look something more like this:


Global elite 2023

Allen & Overy


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Davis Polk


Latham & Watkins


Simpson Thacher




Weil Gotshal

As for the original “sweet sixteen,” they are predicting the US elite to expand, with Wachtell Lipton and Cravath becoming super-boutiques like Slaughters, and with Paul Weiss and Debevoiose joining the group


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