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‘There is such a sense that we need to walk the walk. More so than I’ve ever seen before. This has captured the attention of many senior management partners. People are now taking ESG and diversity and inclusion as seriously as anything else in the firm.’
The view of Doug Bryden, Travers Smith’s head of risk and operational regulatory, certainly chimes with attitudes to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) imperatives held by senior corporate lawyers interviewed for our inaugural ESG report. Continue reading “We good corporate citizens – ESG report”
The legal industry is still fragmenting. Pre-2008 it was an easier game: a buoyant economy, predictable government and a converging world flattened by globalisation and the internet. Law firms sought to be ‘global’ and ‘full-service’ and merged or opened offices accordingly. The business model was simple: bigger clients, bigger teams, higher utilisation, higher rates. Hold onto more rainmakers than your rivals and the fortifications of a professional monopoly took care of the rest.
What has evolved post-2008 is a buyers’ market that shows no signs of abating. ‘There’s more choice of providers now than ever,’ says Chris Fowler, general counsel (GC) of BT Technology. ‘Alternative providers have a far greater share of wallet. There’s more of them and a wider spread, and then you’ve got the Big Four coming into play. The key thing coming into focus now is choice.’ Continue reading “Arrested development – the legal innovation report”
‘It’s a snowball effect. Look at private equity (PE) – that used to be dominated by Clifford Chance (CC), Freshfields and Ashurst but now it’s US firms,’ warns Weil London head Mike Francies. ‘The same hasn’t happened in M&A yet but nearly all of the top US firms here are now trying to build it. In my view, in the same way that a range of top UK firms have fallen behind the Magic Circle, it’s inevitable that the Magic Circle will end up falling behind the US firms for global M&A.’
On the face of it, there’s nothing new about the top US firms’ assault on the City legal market. Having pushed remuneration packages up to eye-watering seven or eight figure sums for the most coveted names, their extensive hiring sprees and growing dominance in areas such as PE and leverage finance have been well documented. Continue reading “Legal 500 analysis – is the Magic Circle’s dominance in the UK M&A market under threat?”
After a succession of years in the public eye and with no lack of controversy in 2020, it was going to take something seismic to prevent the perennially relevant slew of misconduct claims dominating the law firm risk agenda. Last year, that seismic event happened, with the world plunged into chaos as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, our annual risk and professional indemnity report with broker Marsh shows this has caused a serious shake-up of risk registers, with firms understandably more cautious about the potential data security pitfalls of enforced home working as well as reduced workforce availability.
Perhaps a less-predicted consequence of the pandemic, however, was the widespread rise to prominence that many law firm risk managers and general counsel (GCs) experienced last year. Suddenly, risk professionals became more integral to all aspects of the law firm business, making connections and having conversations in a way that did not take place before 2021. Continue reading “Going viral – Risk management and professional indemnity survey 2021”
SFO in the spotlight once again after stuttering investigations
Now a few years into the Lisa Osofsky era of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the jury is still out on the agency’s performance.
There have been successes: white-collar crime lawyers agree that the SFO’s near-€1bn deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with Airbus in January 2020 was a solid achievement, with Stewarts’ fraud partner David Savage praising the international co-operation involved in securing the plea deal. Continue reading “Hot topics”
I was an incredibly good girl and my mother was incredibly opinionated: I basically did whatever she told me to do! For years I wanted to be a doctor but then I realised I absolutely hated chemistry and you couldn’t be one without chemistry. So I had a crisis after my O-Levels where I thought ‘Oh God what am I going to be then?’ So suddenly my mum said: ‘Right, that’s it then, you’re going to be a lawyer.’ She’s of that generation that absolutely idolised professions – she always called our family doctor by his first name. Continue reading “Disputes perspectives: Claire Shaw”
As he does every year, Stewarts’ head of commercial litigation, Clive Zietman, prepares to address an assembly of disputes partners. It is a customary annual strategy meeting, where the firm attempts to make sense of the market. But he encounters a familiar problem.
‘I’ve become notorious for saying “I don’t have a crystal ball” when predicting market trends. My wife is into all that stuff, so one year I literally took in a crystal ball. It still didn’t work. All I can say is this: things often don’t pan out the way you think they will.’ Continue reading “What’s next?”