Since I joined Legal Business as editor-in-chief in February, our expanded editorial team has been striving to update our publication with a number of investments. Crucially we’ve aimed to improve our coverage in several regards, including more substantive reporting on issues affecting in-house counsel. Just as important has been efforts to give the title a far stronger online platform to complement our traditional strength in print, which included the launch in April of a totally revamped website and the unveiling in September of our well-received iPad edition, which is freely available to subscribing law firms.More than 40,000 readers also now get our thrice-weekly email briefing.
It feels that we have had some real success in modernising a proud brand in legal publishing throughout the year and we’ll aim to build on that progress in 2014.
In the meantime, I’m indulging in an end-of-year review of my favourite pieces of 2013.
We put a lot of time and effort into our long-form reporting – these pieces showcase the best of those efforts.
First turning to in-house coverage, the star of the show was our annual survey of in-house counsel, which we published in October. The centrepiece of the 24-page report was Buy-side stories, which assessed client attitudes in a number of regards and asked if in-house teams can sustain the dramatic growth seen over the last 15 years. Other highlight coverage over the year included Feeling the squeeze and Making connections, which respectively looked at the encroachment of procurement teams in legal services and how general counsel share ideas and network with peers.
The regional and national UK legal market continued its dramatic reshaping through 2013 in the wake of struggling firms collapsing or agreeing takeovers, a trend bookended with February’s sale of most of Cobbetts to DWF and Dundas & Wilson’s announced takeover by CMS Cameron McKenna this month. Setting the heather on fire and Pretenders to the throne explored this rapidly shifting dynamic, with the former piece examining the turmoil facing Scotland’s historic elite while the latter sized up the emerging national players like DWF and Bond Dickinson aiming to fill the space once dominated by DLA Piper and Eversheds.
Country reports have long been a feature of Legal Business. The pick of the bunch this year for me include ‘We own the time’ and Outrageous fortune, respectively covering the huge hopes now resting on Africa’s legal market and the impact of five years of austerity on Dublin’s legal community.
Standout practice and industry coverage over the year saw us focus on intellectual property with Protect and serve and Getting proprietorial. But for me the highlights were the May cover feature on media regulation and disputes in the post-Leveson age, Shock and Flaw and Great bright hopes, which identified the most promising up-and-coming corporate partners at the City’s top law firms.
It’s important to throw in a few leftfield topics alongside the weighty coverage. Highlights in this respect were Hard-wired, a look at the irreverent online ‘tabloid’ Above The Law and The thick of it, a report on the unsung work, contribution and development of legal PR teams.
Also light-hearted was the profile of K&L Gates’ iconoclastic head Peter Kalis, Ready for his close up, and Mark Rawlinson’s interview in the launch of our new regular feature, Life during law.
Inevitably given Legal Business‘s focus on the profession, we often examine what makes law firms tick. Two of the strongest pieces in this regard were The I in Team in May and June’s cover feature Few are chosen. The former addressed what it takes for a laterally-hired partner to be successful in a new institution by exploring the experiences of four high-achieving transfers, while the latter analysed the huge strain put on the partnership model as law firms continue to cut back on their equity ranks.
However, the most ambitious article in this arena came in October with How to improve a law firm in 17 easy steps the popular cover feature that put forward ideas to upgrade and modernise a law firm.
Readers will always look to Legal Business for flagship surveys and our Global 100 and LB 100 coverage were among the most ambitious reporting of the year, highlighted by In the club and The age of turbulence, the respective lead articles.
Likewise, our brand rests to a considerable extent on our analysis of individual law firms at key moments in their development. Two of our best pieces of this style came with The daily grind which focused on Hogan Lovells’ cultural challenges three years on from its ground-breaking merger, and The ideal law firm for 2013, which assessed the triumphs and trials of Eversheds.
December’s cover feature saw perhaps an even more ambitious piece with After Charlie’s War, which assessed Ashurst’s high-stakes Asia-Pacific merger and surprise election defeat of senior partner Charlie Geffen.
While all the above pieces are subscriptions journalism, the expansion of our website saw Legal Business also publishing open access commentary, news and blogging on a daily basis.
Free-access highlights from 2013 include:
Things I would have said about the future of law if I hadn’t forgotten my notes
If the mid-tier’s days are numbered why do they keep doing so well?
The lingering enigma of BLP’s bad year
Victories, defeats and growing up – Ashurst faces up to life after Charlie
‘Mishcon’ no more but a City player at last? Wragges needs a big deal and the old magic
2006 and all that – an oh-so-familiar mess at Linklaters
SJ Berwin’s choice – to soar or crash with an Asian giant
The battle for talent and other phoney wars
The mindset for 21st century law – be optimistic and afraid and you’ll do fine
Why the in-house triumph over law firms may prove short-lived
Anyway, I hope readers have enjoyed what we’ve done during the year. As ever, feedback and suggestions are welcome at the email below. Our blog is taking a short break over the holiday period. Best wishes for Christmas and we’ll see you around in 2014 when we will have a few interesting new projects to unveil.