Welcome to the latest instalment of our weekly recap of interesting things that happened in law land this week.
Analysis of the week: Close hauled
A running theme through Legal Business over the last two years has been that the industry truism that the tide is flowing only in the direction of larger, global law firms neither captures the complex reality, or is supported by the numbers. A case in point is this piece drawn from this month’s LB100 coverage, which focuses on mid-tier players in the UK 25-50, which found outfits in this weight class once again putting in some of the best performances of the year – among them Osborne Clarke, Macfarlanes and Mishcon de Reya. Subscribers can click here to see our report or here to get a clear comparison with the LB100 averages.
Theme of the week: GCs in the spotlight amid rule-bending and wrong-doing
This week brought further reminders of the mounting scrutiny on standards in business and law, as illustrated on a very different scale by our two most popular posts of the week: the first on Freshfields’ role on the investigation into Tesco’s embarrassing admission of £250m over-statement in profits and the striking off of a former Burges Salmon lawyer for mis-handling client money for a decade. The Tesco investigation was notable for GC Adrian Morris’s role in receiving an initial whistle-blower’s report, which triggered the humiliating restatement and investigation. With rumbles in the City about Tesco for some time, this one will be watched closely. Also notable this week were reports that a senior in-house lawyer and the former group GC of Barclays have been interviewed as part of the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into a fund-raising. It’s a reminder that in the days of greater corporate scrutiny and an expanded role for in-house lawyers, GCs are increasingly operating at the sharp end, as Paul Gilbert argued in a popular recent column for Legal Business.
Something for the weekend:
It may sound like an elaborate hoax by elite law firms to convince everyone that all this talk of alternative models and new paradigms in law is a load of nonsense but it is apparently real. Yes ReinventLaw has been set up for ill-defined reasons by the people who have been bringing you jargon-laden, proselytizing conferences laden with Palo Alto-style utopian geek speak. Readers who care to adventure will be treated to the ‘four pillars of innovation’ – bizarrely one of them is law, which should really be a given – before informing people of elements of its mission statement such as: ‘We combine disciplines such as informatics, statistics, business, machine learning, programming and design to better understand and analyze the law. Learning by doing, learning by building is what we do. Talk is cheap. We build.’ There’s also: ‘We believe lawyers can change the world but to change the world we must first change ourselves.’
And it gets worse. And funnier. It should be possible to believe and discuss the very real likelihood of dramatic tech-supported change in the delivery of legal services without descending to Google-inflected guff but it just goes to show that New Law is even better than Old Law at making inane marketing proclamations. That’s progress for you.
Those wishing to legally limber up for the weekend with something written in English may prefer to opt for this piece from noted blogger Carl Gardner on the constitutional realities for the UK after the Scots independence vote.
Have a good one.
This week’s top posts:
‘He was robbing Peter to pay Paul’: Ex Burges Salmon associate struck off for mishandling estates over ten years
‘We have uncovered a serious issue’: Freshfields acts on Tesco investigation into overestimated profits
Akin Gump finishes the job and takes four more partners from Bingham
‘I’m a great one for re-inventing myself’: Clifford Chance global COO Amanda Burton steps down
Mergerwatch – discussions crank up a gear as Morgan Lewis and Bingham look set to combine