Regime change – The scorched-earth approach to legal education reform

napalm in the classroom

Its supporters are accused of advocating reforms not fit for purpose, posing a threat to the standing of the profession; its detractors are derided as ‘dinosaurs’, apologists for inequality and ‘buggers’ who moan about everything.

Four years since the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced plans to shake up legal education in England and Wales with the introduction of a new Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), the debate is as passionate as on day one. And as deeply entrenched. Continue reading “Regime change – The scorched-earth approach to legal education reform”

Full disclosure – How to resolve the profession’s #MeToo problem


‘If you’re a partner and in control of someone’s career, that is an unequal relationship. Repeated drunken flings are not the work of a balanced, responsible partner. Could she have realistically said no? He was in control of her. He was her boss.’

So says one City employment veteran of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) prosecution and subsequent departure in October of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring partner Ryan Beckwith, following findings of sexual misconduct with a junior member of staff. It reveals uncomfortable truths about why, with its esoteric partnership structure and pressure-cooker working conditions, the legal industry is more susceptible than many to the fallout from #MeToo allegations and the behaviour that fuels them. Continue reading “Full disclosure – How to resolve the profession’s #MeToo problem”

The Global 100 debate – Decision time

Denise Gibson and Charles Hayes

Alex Novarese, Legal Business: Let’s get some observations on how people think their businesses are performing.

Charlie Jacobs, Linklaters: If you look at the last three years, conditions for law firms have been pretty benign. For a lot of our clients, it has been a tough environment, but the law firms have performed well. There are more people competing, yet the top law firms all seem to be performing well. Complexity is good for our business. But most would say it feels a little softer this year. On a global basis, given the various tensions, it feels there are fewer of the big, transformative deals we all love. This year looks slightly more challenging. Continue reading “The Global 100 debate – Decision time”

Leadership pivots and partner exits highlight a period of flux for Clydes – what next for the insurance giant?

Peter Hasson

Muna Abdi assesses a period of upheaval for one of the UK’s most upwardly-mobile law firms

Sudden moves in the legal industry are generally viewed with suspicion and the resignation of Simon Konsta as Clyde & Co’s senior partner in June, little more than halfway through his five-year term, was no exception. After all, it remains rare for leaders to step down part way into their term. Continue reading “Leadership pivots and partner exits highlight a period of flux for Clydes – what next for the insurance giant?”

‘There are Formula 1 drivers and other drivers’ – who’s winning the race for London’s lev fin work?

Adam Freeman

Georgina Stanley and Ben Wheway cast an eye over one of the City’s most contested practice lines

‘Leveraged finance is an industry that thinks in American,’ notes one former veteran of the Magic Circle, now with a US outfit, reflecting on the much-changed dynamics of Europe’s credit markets. Continue reading “‘There are Formula 1 drivers and other drivers’ – who’s winning the race for London’s lev fin work?”

Sponsored briefing: Legal tech – Too much of a good thing?

Law Tech: GC readers manual

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Neota Logic

Nearly $1bn was invested in legal technology and New Law disruptors in 2018. That was across more than 50 funding rounds and included start-ups through to more established players, according to research from Investec. Venture capital, private equity, non-legal companies and trade buyers are increasingly interested in what they see as a highly-lucrative legal sector.

The frequency and scope of legal tech funding has also jumped markedly: a Thomson Reuters report in mid-2017 put investment into UK legal tech start-ups at just £16m in the previous 18 months. Hundreds of legal tech companies have subsequently popped up. Every law firm is quick to tout its latest innovation or partnership with a technology provider, while some even have incubators where they work with start-ups over several months, honing products. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Legal tech – Too much of a good thing?”

New tricks – Can law firms beat New Law disruptors at their own game?

'How it works': New Law book

Lee Ranson was restless. It was late 2018 and Eversheds Sutherland’s co-chief needed something different: a viable plan to double revenue over the next five years.

A few months earlier, he and US-based co-chief executive Mark Wasserman had joked about telling the firm’s partner conference in New York they were floating on the stock exchange. Now Ranson turned his mind to a public offering, or at least the options to attract external investment. But it was not about his law firm. This was about Eversheds’ alternative legal service offerings, covering consulting and flexible lawyering, then generating £29m annually. A tidy sum, and growing rapidly, but just 3% of the firm’s overall revenue. Continue reading “New tricks – Can law firms beat New Law disruptors at their own game?”

Our corporate soul – Defining the values of a law firm

Richard Foley

‘If your boss demands loyalty, give him integrity. But if he demands integrity, then give him loyalty.’
USAF Colonel John Boyd, quoted in Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

‘Our objectives are… to achieve the highest order of excellence in the practice of the art, the science and the profession of the law; through such practice to earn a living and to derive the stimulation and pleasure of worthwhile adventure.’
Judge Simon Rifkind, Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, 1963 Continue reading “Our corporate soul – Defining the values of a law firm”

Cross-border M&A: Asian bidders usher in different mindset

Sonya Rogerson

Alex Novarese, Legal Business: It has been a record period for Asian activity into Europe. How do you see the general trends?

Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, Hinduja Group: China is an issue, because the main difference between the Asian companies, European companies and Chinese companies is that Chinese companies are directly or indirectly state-owned. Continue reading “Cross-border M&A: Asian bidders usher in different mindset”