M&A heavyweight Roger Barron is leaving the Magic Circle firm after more than 17 years as a partner, where he has acted on a number of key mandates.
The boss of AIM-listed law firm Gateley is confident investors would support further acquisitions after its third in three years, citing a return to the capital markets as an option, for the right opportunity.
Earlier this week, Gateley announced it was making its first legal acquisition since its landmark £30m listing in 2015, entering an agreement to buy Surrey-based GCL Solicitors for £4.15m.
Within the same week, two Magic Circle firms stressed to Legal Business the same mantra after departures of big-name lawyers: it is not about stars, the focus is the platform and that is what top clients are buying. In a mobile market where even the once-untouchable elite City law firms lose marquee names to high-paying rivals, it is an increasingly familiar refrain, albeit one that has spread from mid-weight stalwarts to the tier more used to the role of hunter than prey.
But law firms – and this goes double for the leaders in the UK and US – would be well advised to go nowhere near the seductive institutional defence and not only because the financial results of the last ten years provide ample evidence that contradicts the assertion.
A £20m government fund for the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis in law, accounting and insurance is being welcomed as a positive step for what is ‘under-funded and under-thought’ research and development (R&D) in the legal tech space.
Earlier this month, the government launched the fund as part of a wider drive to address challenges through research funding agency UK Research and Innovation and its Innovate UK arm. It is the latest development in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which focuses on improving UK science and business innovation.
A former Locke Lord partner who played a key role in the US firm receiving the largest ever fine from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has been struck off and ordered to pay £70,000 in costs.
Jonathan Denton, a banking and finance partner at Locke Lord, was sacked in July 2015 after using the firm’s client account for transactions ‘that bore the hallmarks of dubious financial arrangements or investment schemes’, according to a judgement from the SDT last November.
I often look for knowledge outside of the legal profession to help me develop strategy for our [Microsoft’] legal business. I recently came across Warren Buffett’s 1992 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, and this passage on franchises vs. businesses caught my attention:
An economic franchise arises from a product or service that: (1) is needed or desired; (2) is thought by its customers to have no close substitute and; (3) is not subject to price regulation. The existence of all three conditions will be demonstrated by a company’s ability to regularly price its product or service aggressively and thereby to earn high rates of return on capital. Moreover, franchises can tolerate mis-management. Inept managers may diminish a franchise’s profitability, but they cannot inflict mortal damage.
The Magic Circle firm announced today (21 May) its lawyers will be able to practise local law in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) through a joint operations agreement with local firm Zhao Sheng. FTZ rules allow international players to tie-up with domestic firms and practise local law.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is to build on its mass relocation of support roles to the north with the launch of an equivalent hub for continental Europe. The move is also set to usher in a new career track for legal staff and support tech-assisted services, further building on the City giant’s 2015 shake-up, which has already created more than 700 jobs in Manchester.
The latest initiative will see Freshfields launch a new back and middle office centre to cover mainland Europe, with Berlin viewed as the most likely destination. ‘Berlin is the preferred location because it’s a centre for legal tech, and the only European city where there is a real start-up scene,’ Freshfields managing partner Stephan Eilers told Legal Business.
Dentons announced the hire of Howard Barrie, who re-joins the firm after several years at Eversheds Sutherland. Barrie had previously spent 19 years with Dentons in his first stint at the firm, and returns to its finance practice.
CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) and Fieldfisher have been appointed to the Regulator of Social Housing’s (RSH) inaugural legal panel.
Trowers & Hamlins, Devonshires and Mills & Reeve will also be in the roster of firms advising the government body, announced today (18 May), for a four-year term.