Legal Business Blogs

The Friday Edit: Tods Murray gives up the ghost, innovation everywhere and the secret political life of managing partners

As the end of the working week beckons, it’s time once more for our weekly recap of the notable legal events that occurred since the heady days of Monday with our Friday Edit column.As we cite a fair amount of subscription coverage in this column, you can click here for further information on gaining full access to Legal Business.

Analysis of the week: Visionaries, politicians and survivors

In challenging times it is now widely accepted that strong leadership makes a material difference in separating the winners from the losers in the legal industry. As part of a major collaboration with Berwin Leighton Paisner on leadership and innovation in law, we this month explore the oxymoronic concept of leadership in partnership. With contributions from half a dozen standout law firm leaders – among them David Morley at Allen & Overy, Bob Dell at Latham & Watkins and Andrew Leaitherland at DWF – it is apparent that law firm chiefs have to be acute readers of partnership politics while falsely looking like they are not adept at manipulation. The paradox is that these reluctant Machiavellis are most successful when combining their finessing of the partnership with genuine integrity and trust. Subscribers can access the piece here.

Theme of the week: Innovation, innovation, innovation

Innovation in law was over the place this week – not least because of Legal Business‘s own 23-page report on the topic, which included an assessment of whether partnerships can innovate. Elsewhere, the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards was back for its ninth year, a project that probably did more than any other to encourage the profession to get with the programme.

Further keeping up the theme this week, Allen & Overy on Thursday (9 October) announced that it is to expand its much touted Belfast support hub to nearly 500 staff within five years, with the operation having already rapidly grown to 380 staff. And if that wasn’t enough, our guest contributor Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq, waded in with a take on disruption in law, while Legal Business went back to the original disruption bible The Innovator’s Dilemma to assess its relevance to law in the piece, ‘Profession, disruption thyself?’ (£).

Story of the week: Ailing Tods Murray rushed into administration as Scot legal gloom continues

One story dominated the news headlines in the profession in the UK this week: the news that 158-year old Scots practice Tods Murray had been acquired out of administration by leading Scots practice Shepherd and Wedderburn in the latest reminder that it’s tough in the regions.

The deal sees 170 staff and partners move over but also triggered a 45-day consultation period that is expected to see job cuts. The move is the end of a major Scots practice that was in the LB100 during the boom years, when it had revenues of £23.4m. The firm’s practice had subsequently come under huge pressure, with revenues slumping to £12.6m in 2012/13, a pressure aggravated by a major property commitment the firm took on at the height of the boom. With Semple Fraser entering administration last year and Dundas & Wilson agreeing an effective rescue deal with CMS Cameron McKenna – it’s a reminder that devolution has done very little to help a Scots legal market that has considerably diminished over the last 15 years.

Other notable stories this week included the surprise decision of Olswang head David Stewart to stand down halfway through his term without a successor; the results of our annual client survey and our report on the dramatic growth achieved by disputes boutique Signature Litigation.

Quotes of the week:

‘Lawyers think that what they do is absolutely unique, when about 80% of what anyone does can actually be replicated by technology. These are all realities that people are going to have to face.’ – Mishcon de Reya head Kevin Gold looks ahead, ‘Visionaries, politicians and survivors’ (£)

‘I would have been hurled from my second floor office had we not won.’ – Slaughter and May corporate head Andy Ryde reflects on getting Freshfields thrown off the M&S takeover battle, ‘The New Boy’ (£)

‘I’ve got three young kids and if you go home and say, “I’ve had a bad day”, they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, move out of the way – I’m watching the TV.”‘ – Simmons & Simmons’ head Jeremy Hoyland on why it’s lonely at the top, Life During Law (£)

This week’s top posts:

‘We cannot take things for granted’- jobs at risk as Shepherd and Wedderburn acquires Tods Murray from administrators

The clients’ verdict: Linklaters wins best firm in show from annual in-house survey

Signature Litigation grows revenues 70% to £8m and unveils team profit-sharing model

‘With our deep gratitude’: Olswang CEO Stewart resigns 

‘There will be more to come’: Market reaction as Shepherd and Wedderburn plans expansion after Tods acquisition