Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Australia - Who Gets Left Behind?

A detailed article about the newest kid on the block in Australia (as of only a few hours ago) - Clifford Chance. The firm joins Allen & Overy, Norton Rose, DLA and Bakers as the latest global giant to arrive, with the first three in that list arriving formally (and almost on the same flight) less than six months ago.

This is not a gradual arrival - this is clearly an invasion. So who will get left behind? Will the industry look to the likes of other UK leaders such as Freshfields and Herbert Smith and consider them the slow movers for not joining the vegemite varsity?

Perhaps the US mid-sized firms will be seen as the group that lost out the most by leaving their run too late?

Or will history actually look less favourably on the domestic firms in Australia that have not yet benefited from an international marriage, saying they were too slow to move, too slow to change, or indeed just too slow to react to the increasing threat? If so, the next logical question is "why so slow"?

Most domestic market dominance and evolution analysis (particularly that which focuses on comparatively small domestic markets and their relationships with larger global threats - irrespective of industry or offering) points to the long term winners of market share being the global brands and the mid to small sized domestic brands and boutiques, with the hardest hurt in the long term being the previously strongest domestic leaders (most often mistakenly seen as irreplaceable and immovable brands).

Many business leaders and academics have studied such trends, with multiple authors hypothesising on the causes - leadership, change resistance, and blindness brought on by ignorance and apathy can't be discounted.

To all those "she'll be right mate" types who may look to stick their heads in the sand and continue to say that this won't change the face of legal service provision in Australia or the competitive landscape that has existed for over 20 years, we remind you that although Rome wasn't built in a day, it fell faster than a tropical Queensland cyclone.

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