Education, education, education

Law firms take their training very seriously. LB spent some time in the classroom to see how education has become more than just a break from the billable hour

It’s all far removed from a university lecture. The 20 Norton Rose senior associates turn up on time, apparently without a hangover in sight. The lawyers help themselves to the spread of fresh fruit and coffee and take their seats at a U-shaped desk which leaves nowhere to hide. They have come from as far afield as the Hong Kong and Dubai offices to the firm’s London HQ for a three-day course on marketing and business development. Continue reading “Education, education, education”

Management speak

In just under two years Simon Davies has restructured Linklaters’ partnership, cut lawyers and offices and ridden the financial crisis. Time for a new strategy

Simon Davies sees his job in simple terms. ‘The most important task is developing the strategy and then implementing it,’ says Linklaters’ managing partner. Since April of this year he’s been putting a new strategy in place. The vision set out by his predecessor Tony Angel – to be the leading global law firm – hasn’t changed. It’s the means of getting there that the new plan is concerned with.

The two-year strategy places particular emphasis on client relationships and the firm’s people. Just as Davies sees his role, it’s hardly rocket science. But since he officially took over from Angel in January 2008 aged just 40 Davies and his management team have been forced to make a series of tough strategic calls.

Continue reading “Management speak”

System failure

The Advocates General of the European Court of Justice have argued that more work needs to be done before a single European patents court replaces national jurisdiction in the EU. More than 20 years after it was mooted, a unified patent litigation system is still being debated.

If you thought patent lawyers were mild-mannered boffins, think again. You could almost hear the collective wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the EU this summer when a leaked opinion appeared to shatter any hope of a unified patent litigation system being introduced in Europe. Continue reading “System failure”

A breath of fresh air

Over the course of the past decade renewable energy has become a mainstream part of the energy sector. With investment flooding into projects across Europe, domestic and international firms are connecting with a new revenue stream

In renewable energy the emphasis is on thinking big. From the chain of offshore wind farms forming around Britain’s coast, to the solar plants strung out across southern Spain, to an ambitious proposal to cover parts of the Sahara with solar panels, billions are being poured into myriad projects. As national governments scramble to meet the targets agreed by the EU — to produce 20% less carbon dioxide, improve energy efficiency by 20% and increase renewable energy to 20% of the energy mix — investors and their advisers are getting to grips with a rapidly evolving sector.

Continue reading “A breath of fresh air”

Rest in pieces

Reckless ambition, inept management and greed: a case study in how not to run a law firm

In February 2009, this magazine published a cover feature charting Halliwells’ dramatic fall from grace. Entitled ‘The Flight of Icarus’ (see LB191), it revealed how, through what proved to be a fatal combination of reckless ambition, ineptitude and greed, the firm’s management had scuppered what formerly ranked as one of the UK’s fastest growing and most promising names.

Thanks to a series of ill-judged strategic decisions – such as a controversial property deal that saw the equity partners share a secret £15m kickback – Halliwells had, in the space of a few short years, gone from being debt-free to teetering on the brink of financial collapse.

Continue reading “Rest in pieces”

The New deal

The private equity dealmakers of the boom years have been shifted off the front pages. As the market shows signs of recovery, the US firms are challenging the established order

As private equity comes blinking into the light after a torrid couple of years, advisers are grappling with a new market, where leverage is a dirty word and once mighty European buyout houses look distinctly off colour. Continue reading “The New deal”

Cracking up

As legal aid comes under the strain of budget cuts, pro bono work by commercial law firms is helping paper over some of the cracks, playing a critical role in helping to close the justice gap

It’s a scene far removed from Canary Wharf. In the offices of a small legal aid firm in Acton, two young children are playing at a desk with some dog-eared magazines while their dad talks to a lawyer. Their mother died last year and their Ghanaian father is living illegally in the UK. They’re homeless and living out of a suitcase in a B&B. Continue reading “Cracking up”

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.

Continue reading “Double vision”

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.

Continue reading “Front Rowe”

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.

Continue reading “Firm mechanics”