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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Reinventing the wheel

With the SRA on the verge of overhauling the regulatory system yet again, our third annual Legal Business/Marsh risk management round table looked at how ever-moving goalposts will affect successful risk management in the new decade

At the top of a rain-lashed Gherkin on a chilly February night, yet another review of thelegal profession’s regulatory system was discussed, as industry experts came together for dinner to debate some of the most important issues facing law firm managers as we enter a new decade. Continue reading “Reinventing the wheel”

Crunch time

The past few years have seen dramatic changes at Lawrence Graham and Nabarro, two firms hit hardest by the real estate downturn. But as LG approaches its 300th anniversary, it is looking its age, while Nabarro still has its bite

Before you embark on a rebrand there’s so much to consider. How much are you willing to invest in a renaming and follow-up marketing campaign? How do you attract new clients without alienating longstanding business partners? Will you share your identity with a household-name electronics manufacturer? Evidently, the last issue is easily overlooked. Continue reading “Crunch time”

Talent scouts

With the City’s law firms bogged down by plummeting profits and disaffected partners, the Americans have seized the chance to hire some serious big cheeses. Here, LB names our top ten laterals of the year

If you thought one of the most turbulent 12-month periods that the legal market has ever seen would result in partners hunkering down and getting on with whatever work they could find, then think again. Since our last Global London survey a year ago, no fewer than 64 partners have opted to up sticks and join US firms on this side of the Atlantic, and not all of them were moving because they were pushed.

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Without a paddle

The continued exodus of high-profile partners from White & Case’s City operation suggests the Global London leader still has serious management issues. It’s time someone took charge

In last year’s Global London issue, White & Case’s newly appointed London executive partner Oliver Brettle reacted defiantly to LB’s suggestion that the office had morale issues. It wasn’t correct that ‘one or two vocal former members of the team should give rise to a more general impression that there is a problem with morale in the office’, he insisted.

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Burning platforms

While firms have been talking tough on developing effective risk management teams, the preparation ends now. With fundamental changes to the profession around the corner, risk teams need to be primed for action

While the first Legal Business and Marsh risk management survey two years ago examined the need for a risk management function, and last year’s report looked at the very specific challenges facing firms in the teeth of a global recession, this year finds firms very much needing to get in shape. Talk is cheap, and the emphasis now is on getting risk management and compliance teams ready to tackle the fresh structures and regulatory pressures in a new decade.

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Renaissance man

From challenged leader to merger architect and LB Management Partner of the Year – it’s been quite a turnaround for Lovells’ David Harris

When David Harris collected his Management Partner of the Year award from Legal Business at Grosvenor House in mid-February, it wasn’t just the David Bowie soundtrack that brought a smile to his face. Though Bowie is a hero of this polo-playing guitarist, that smile was prompted by the day job, and the apparent vindication of his ambitious plan to transform Lovells from a mid-tier everyfirm into a global player.

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Cards on the table

Wragge & Co’s decision to launch in Paris sees its notoriously prudent partnership taking a rare gamble. Legal Business reveals the ambitious new strategy now underpinning Birmingham’s largest legal powerhouse

If you’re wearing a suit when you meet Quentin Poole you’ll feel overdressed. He looks more like a teacher than a lawyer: no jacket, top button undone, no tie. The softly-spoken senior partner of Birmingham’s biggest firm perfectly personifies the self-styled benevolent culture of Wragge & Co, a culture that ensures it is a permanent feature on the Financial Times’ best places to work list. But, like the firm, Poole’s unassuming demeanour masks a resolute efficiency that it is a mistake to underestimate. Wragges’ business ambitions are far from modest.

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Staggering about

There’s no doubt that there was a hardening of the professional indemnity (PI) insurance market in the past year for firms outside the LB100. The advantages of the soft market have truly come to an end. Many smaller firms have been hit hard by the hikes in premiums, due primarily to the rising number of claims within conveyancing, coupled with an increased chance of the firms failing, and the impact of fraudulent activity in the market.

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