Societe General’s recent panel review illustrates three points

(1) The urge to converge, as illustrated here, leads to massive – and therefore expensive – law firms. The French financial services giant recently underwent a review of the firms that it deems members of its nine-firm global roster, Legal Week, Vol. 8, March 2, 2006 at 1. Of those nine, four are Magic Circle firms (Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, and the newcomer, Linklaters). Three others are huge firms: Shearman & Sterling, White & Case, and Orrick Herrington. Rounding out the panel are Gide Loyrett Nouel and the UK firm, Norton Rose. (For other arguments against convergence, see my article from Legal Times this month.)

(2) It takes time to cull through law firms and make decisions. SocGen started the review in June 2005 and announced its results, at least for the global group, ten months later.

(3) Convergence programs always have exceptions. For example, here the French bank has completed separate national panels for the UK and for France and intends to add others covering Central and Eastern Europe. Not stopping there, the bank is “drawing up a series of sub-panels covering [11] niche areas.”

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