It’s that time of the week again, dear readers, where we help you look back at the interesting legal happenings since Monday and pick out some of the highlights of this month’s edition of Legal Business. You can click here for further information on gaining full access to Legal Business.
Analysis of the week: Martial law
Can the disputes boom continue? And if it can are City law firms ready to bring their once-marginalised litigators back fully into their inner circles? These and many other issues were tackled in the piece, Martial law, the combatively titled signature piece for our 2014 Disputes Yearbook. The article assesses if the post-Lehman expansion of contentious work can continue and finds litigators unlikely to again accept taking a secondary role to deal lawyers. By a similar token the momentum running in favour of litigation boutiques shows no sign of having run its course.
Story of the week: Lloyds panel review
Though we reported it first late last Friday evening, it was this week that most readers would have seen the news of Lloyds’ long-awaited panel review, with 10 law firms making it on to the bank’s core own-account roster. Previous Lloyds counsel not on the list include Osborne Clarke, Stephenson Harwood and Berwin Leighton Paisner. By all accounts, the process was considerably less aggressive than Barclays’ overhaul earlier this year – which was reputed to have sliced £20m off the bank’s annual legal spend – but few expect the trend for tough bank reviews to change any time soon. Click here for our report and here for a recent interview with Lloyds’ Andrew Whittaker and Kate Cheetham for more background.
Comments of the week: Keeping Slaughters relevant and Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘seamless’ service
In a further reminder that something mysterious about Slaughter and May still quickens the profession’s pulse, our piece on the firm ‘Never mind the magic, feel the substance‘ rapidly became the most widely read comment piece to have appeared on Legal Business’s website this year. While taking a sceptical view of the firm’s chances of sustaining its position indefinitely, we conclude its quality and consistency still provide formidable and enduring assets in the age of global law. We raise the point that Slaughters’ traditionalist view of client services could be more aggressively deployed to its advantage. Subscribers wanting to read the accompanying assessment of the firm’s celebrated corporate practice, The new boy, should click here.
Another popular piece came from regular LB contributor Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq, who takes a jaded view of Norton Rose Fulbright’s attempt to have its cake and eat it in a dispute about conflicts and the status of its multi-profit centre combination. Bruce concludes: ‘Lawyers get enough of a bad rap in the public imagination for this very kind of behaviour: Saying one thing for widespread public dissemination and standing on contradictory legalistic distinctions invisible to anyone who’s not a lawyer, and implausible to many who are, when that tactic suits their self-interest.’
Quotes of the week:
‘There is a storm on the horizon and I don’t think many UK in-house counsel recognise it. Where is the line? Where do we have a moral, social or legal obligation to offer testimony and evidence, and discuss things externally? Or do we just have to shut up, be quiet and only speak to our client? That is a moving target right now.’
Bill Mordan, group GC at RB, reflects on the ethical challenges facing the modern in-house counsel, Where next, consigliere?
‘Professionals spend their career trying to convince their clients that they are essential and then at a certain point they realise that they will have to leave the firm and slip out of the door and no-one will really notice. That’s really hard.’
Slaughters veteran William Underhill reflects on the changing of the seasons, The new boy.
‘The kind of people you want to hire at a law firm are those who have a major zest for life and want to do things outside the office. That lawyer will otherwise lack in originality and the ability to work fast and efficiently. I see a lot of friends and family, play a lot of sport, and watch a lot of films. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy the other night – I highly recommend it.’ Clifford Chance litigation partner Simon Davis on keeping his edge, The Disputes Yearbook
Revealed: Lloyds unveils 10-firm roster as panel overhaul draws to a close
Comment: Never mind the magic, feel the substance – Slaughters has only one shot at staying relevant
Guest post: ‘Seamless’? The unintended consequences of Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘combination’ argument
Quinn Emanuel targets City competition practice with Hausfeld partner hire
What’s in a name: One year on King & Wood Mallesons drops SJ Berwin