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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Finding a voice

The reality for a number of firms is that up until now their risk teams have been wading through treacle to get their firms in shape. Now that the concept of effective risk management is universally recognised, the hard work begins for some: getting the appropriate level of support internally. To our survey question ‘What are the main barriers to implementing a risk management culture at your firm?’, the response ‘getting proper “buy-in” from fee-earners’ came up time and again. Continue reading “Finding a voice”

Putting out new fires

This section looks at the key risks identified by the top 150 firms in the UK in our third risk management survey. While last year client bankruptcy, credit problems and other recession-related fears dominated risk managers’ agendas, this year some of those fears may have abated.

Of the potential risks identified by risk managers, the threat of clients being acquired or declared bankrupt has fallen sharply, scoring on average 2.6 out of five, compared to 3.6 last year (see ‘Legal risk profile’ table, opposite).

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Piece of the action

The legal sector has been warily assessing the possibility of outsourcing some services for several years. But with Slaughters now investigating the viability of LPOs, suddenly everyone is taking serious notice

As recently as a year ago, the prospect of Slaughter and May outsourcing legal services overseas seemed as likely as a US president winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, as a new decade dawns, President Obama has his medal and legal process outsourcing (LPO), and notably offshoring, is being weighed up by leading law firms and corporate counsel alike.

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Breaking convention

Despite the lip service paid to renewables, fossil fuels are far and away the leading source of global energy consumption. In the first part of LB’s global energy focus, we analyse the current trends in coal, natural gas and oil

In December 2009 Copenhagen replaced beleaguered golf star Tiger Woods as the most popular search term on Google — a fact that the United Nations Climate Change Conference boasted proudly on its homepage — as, of course, the Danish capital played host to the environmental summit. In finding ways to conserve it and make it cleaner, energy is now officially top of the global agenda.

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Status quo

The past ten years have brought unprecedented change to the legal profession. As we enter a new decade, Legal Business and Dublin’s McCann FitzGerald hosted a round table discussion of some of the key issues affecting firms now.

As we leave behind one of the most tumultuous decades in the history of the legal profession, the overriding message from some of the industry’s thought leaders is keep calm and carry on. At the end of 2009, Legal Business and leading Irish law firm McCann FitzGerald gathered nine legal experts together for dinner and debate at the Gherkin. We wanted to hear their views on how the legal market will shake up in the next decade, particularly while we’re still in the jaws of a global recession. The responses were assuredly unflustered; the mood was anything but pessimistic.

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