What a year it's been! Looking back at my 2012 blog posts, it's hard to believe so much has happened to a profession not really known - let's face it - for its revolutionary spirit. Maybe all that's changing...
The year began auspiciously with Jomati Consulting's report After The Golden Age: The New Legal Era. Tony Williams told the Conversation in January how the changes we were witnessing in the business of law firms were fundamental and permanent - and how only fools consoled themselves with the notion that normal service would resume once the economy returned. And legal news stories breaking over the ensuing months only served to underline his point as the first licences for Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) were granted and firms made their market moves.
During the course of the year I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk one-to-one with the people behind some of the most interesting stories: Neil Kinsella on RJW's merger with Australian law firm giant (and world's first listed law firm) Slater & Gordon; Jeremy Hopkins on the irrepressible rise of Riverview Law; Tim Oliver on Parabis's long awaited grant of its ABS licence - nervous regulatory authorities taking an entire eight months to get their heads around an application for a structure designed to enable private equity investment; and solicitors regulation poacher-turned-gamekeeper Andrew Hopper QC, who was quite vocal throughout the year on what he called "the essential disconnect" between the bright strategic thinking at the top of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the pettifoggers charged with administrating the new system on the ground. O dear. There have been some unhappy moments this year as a result of this disjointed thinking. But Tim insisted he was confident the SRA has come to realise it needs to recruit some different thinking into this arm of its organisation and skill up - and he believes that although it was painful for Parabis being in the vanguard, the firm has at least paved the way for others following behind to have a smoother ride.
In the midst of all this market drama, a smile was raised by brand valuation consultancy Intangible Business. Co-founder Thayne Forbes reminded us that in this Brave New World of legal services, particularly with new types of investor stepping in to the business of law, firms need to understand their "brand value" as never before. We loved their Law Firm Chocolate Bar Challenge.
And would you believe it, this chocolate-themed blog post was by far and away my most popular of the entire year. Without a doubt. See, I always told you lawyers are fun to work with!
We also enjoyed getting closer to some of
the "esteemed mavericks" in the legal blogosphere. The Conversation featured Mike Semple-Piggott talking about his famous Charon QC blog and being the most dangerous man in legal education; Professor John Flood on his Random Academic Thoughts blog and blowing students' minds; Alex Aldridge's Legal Cheek and how the increasing influence of the leading bloggers brings with it a new accountability - even for these men on the fringes of polite legal society.
What interesting times we live in.
Merry Christmas everyone!
If you haven't had a chance to view our wonderful video Christmas card,
take a last look here before you break for the holidays.
See you in the new Year!
The Conversation returns on 13 January 2013