Double vision

With the market recovering slowly, Ashurst’s new-look corporate management team has its work cut out. The duo not only has to build and retain market share, but also restore some much-needed morale to the firm’s transactional team.

In City parlance, Stephen Lloyd and Simon Beddow could be said to be buying at the bottom of the market. Ashurst’s new corporate heads, in place since July, have taken over a practice hit hard by the drop off in deal activity and by the firm’s own restructuring. Partners have been asked to leave the practice, while some of its best young talent has left of its own accord.

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Front Rowe

Claire Rowe took over as Shoosmiths’ chief executive a year ago, after the worst period of the firm’s recent history. Can she turn things around?

Shoosmiths’ chief executive Claire Rowe is no larger-than-life extrovert. She smiles politely; fields questions admirably; and gamely takes part in the photo shoot. But with her neat crib sheet and careful answers, it’s all a little too stage-managed. Yet she’s exactly what Shoosmiths needs right now: inscrutable, focused and serious. A year into taking on the role on 1 August 2009, Rowe is showing signs of turning things around for the firm after two years of poor financials and painful restructuring.

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Firm mechanics

Eight years after its formative merger, Taylor Wessing remains divided. With a new strategy and rebrand in the offing, has the firm finally laid its integration demons to rest, or is it just a new logo and a different shade of green?

Modern law firms are complex machines. In a perfect, well-managed example, the inner workings click and whirr in seamless industry. At Taylor Wessing, the parts haven’t been put together properly. The engine needs some work.

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Appellation contrôlée

The European Court of Justice’s recent ruling on a seven-year fight between Google and LVMH could have significant effects on the use of trade marks in internet advertising. Legal Business examines the fallout from this landmark case

LVMH owns over 60 luxury global brands, including TAG Heuer watches and Louis Vuitton. The latter label, known for its monogrammed luggage, has just topped Millward Brown Optimor’s 2010 BrandZ Top 100 ranking of the world’s most valuable luxury labels for the fifth straight year, and is worth $19.8bn. Naturally, LVMH doesn’t take kindly to knock-off handbags flogged on street corners. Continue reading “Appellation contrôlée”

The life of Bryan

One year since he became Eversheds’ chief executive, Bryan Hughes is reshaping a business badly bruised by the downturn. Can he be the firm’s new messiah?

For a moment the persona slips. The studied slouch stiffens. The I’m-the-man-for-a-crisis composure loses its gloss a little. ‘We’ve got a fairly emotive brand for some reason; we do attract views,’ he sighs, getting worked up by the web commentariat or ‘the blogs’ as he calls them. ‘I don’t know if it’s a question of whether we’ve been too successful too quickly, or whether people see us as a threat, or whether we’re just big and therefore people want to put the boot in.’

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A new cut

Private wealth has changed. No longer the sole reserve of the moneyed upper classes, LB finds firms cashing in on a new breed of international entrepreneur

Picture the scene. Tarquin Huntersley-Cooper, an ageing member of the landed gentry, needs some trust planning to secure the future of his dilapidated 70-acre country estate. Dressed from head to toe in Prince of Wales tweed, he pays a visit to his lawyers, Reginald Hurley & Sons, a two-partner provincial firm that has acted for his family for generations. Settling down on an antique leather Chesterfield in the dusty study, they quickly knock out a draft before retiring to a wood-panelled smoking room for a snifter of fine cognac and some Cuban cigars.

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Stepping up

With the departure of high-profile practice head Jonathan Kelly, the Simmons financial services litigation team has lost a leader in investment banking disputes work. New chief Robert Turner will have a fight on his hands if the firm is to remain a Magic Circle rival

To say that Robert Turner has big boots to fill is to underestimate the size of the task ahead of him. Turner took over as head of financial services litigation at Simmons & Simmons on 1 April, with a background of acting in disputes on behalf of hedge fund managers. But for all his strengths, he enjoys nothing like the profile and reputation of his predecessor Jonathan Kelly – nor indeed his predecessor’s predecessor, now firmwide managing partner Mark Dawkins.

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Safety net

As the number of international arbitrations has grown, so too have calls for a speedier and more cost-effective process. However, the apparatus of international arbitration remains strong in the face of criticism

International arbitration, with the twin props of the New York Convention and the Panama Convention, is the safety net above which the daredevils of cross-border business perform. Its integrity and proper functioning are fundamental. But as international arbitration has grown and evolved, so too have a few of its imperfections.

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Shop around

Kraft Foods’ hostile takeover of Cadbury sparked renewed hysteria about foreign takeovers of the UK’s FTSE 350. For the Magic Circle, it means a client base under threat. LB reveals the winners and losers in the great British sell-off

Slaughter and May has acted for the target in more foreign takeovers of British household names than any other law firm in the past five years. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the only Magic Circle firm to have seen its FTSE 350 client base shrink over the same period. And it is Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy that most often get the call from bidders as foreign direct investment changes the face of the elite corporate client base in the UK.

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Out of the shadows

Michael Greville is the leader of Watson, Farley & Williams, an under-the-radar UK mid-market firm that has been going through an identity crisis. The last few years have seen merger talks aplenty – both transatlantic and domestic – but organic growth is now firmly on the agenda

Some law firms have the ability to hog the media spotlight with a mere stub of a press release – think PR-savvy brands like DLA Piper and Eversheds. Other City stalwarts pride themselves on following a deliberately low-profile path, to the extent that by looking at its website you would never know that Slaughter and May even has a PR function.

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