Legal Pad asked for his outlook on the coming year, and he predicted compensation, employment and tax issues will continue to be busy areas. “Overall, we’re expecting it to be stronger than last year across all practices,” Byrne said.
In his own practice of M&A, lawyers are expecting venture backed startups that held their breath for all of 2009 to start looking for buyers.
“Unless the IPO market comes roaring back, an M&A exit is going to remain the best option,” he said. “When there was all that uncertainty at the start of last year, it was difficult for people to pull the trigger on deals. We are going to see more companies carving out businesses that they don’t want and selling them to companies that do want them.”
The outlook for associates, after the jump
As far as all the hullabaloo over associate compensation, he doesn’t see Baker & McKensie breaking new ground.
“There’s a strong desire on the part of the associate population to stay with the status quo, and we want to make sure if we do change the way we do this, it’s in a reasoned and tested way, so I don’t think we are going to be the first to market with anything,” he said.
Byrne said there’s going to be continued pressure from clients on fees as they whittle down their preferred provider list and press those firms for deeper discounts.
Overall, he’s glad to ring in the 2010.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout year or anything, but I think we are well positioned for it.”
— Amanda Royal