Withers and Speechly Bircham set to merge


Private client leaders Speechly Bircham and Withers are set to merge, potentially creating a 600-lawyer, £170m practice that will fit easily into the top 25 of the Legal Business 100.

News of the union was revealed by RollonFriday on 22 March. On paper the union would make strategic sense. The two firms have almost identical profit margins (Speechly 20%; Withers 21%), although Withers has a considerably higher profit per lawyer of £72,000 to Speechly’s £46,000.

Osborne Clarke retracts bulk of outsourced staff four years after deal


Osborne Clarke (OC) is set to withdraw the majority of its outsourced staff from provider Integreon and bring them back in-house four years after initially striking the deal.

The firm will transfer roughly 65 of the 75 support staff, who were first assigned to Integreon in 2009, back to its offices, with two jobs thought to be at risk. The original deal was intended to last for seven years.

Litigation group Proven appoints David Gold to board


Litigation support business, Proven, had hired former Herbert Smith senior partner Lord David Gold as its chairman.

Gold, who currently runs litigation advisory firm David Gold & Associates, will sit on Proven’s board, which includes former BP general counsel and executive vice president Peter Bevan, and former Director of Public Prosecutions River Glaven QC.

London and New York-based Proven, part of the three-fold Good Governance Group, supports litigation and dispute resolution teams involved in high value multi-jurisdictional cases, as well as specialist services in e-discovery and digital forensics.

Top HSF litigator Greeno defects to Quinn Emanuel’s City arm


Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partners received more bad news this morning as it emerged that top litigator Ted Greeno has resigned to join US disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

The departure represents arguably the most high profile contentious practitioner to join a US law firm in London directly from private practice and will be regarded as highly significant for Quinn Emanuel, which is moving to broaden the practice of its City arm.

Greeno’s resignation was announced this morning (27 March) to HSF’s partnership and comes after almost 30 years with the City firm.

DWF makes 38 redundancies post Cobbetts pre-pack


Following its acquisition of Cobbetts, DWF has laid off 38 staff from its central services support team following a consultation which ended last Friday (22 March).

DWF initially placed 140 staff under redundancy risk but 83 have now been placed into roles and 21 are still in the selection process.

The firm said the move was ‘inevitable with an acquisition of this size and nature’ and that ‘there was an element of overlap of roles’.

Lone star state of mind


Reed Smith’s assault on Houston is a brave move following its failed merger with Thompson & Knight three years ago.

The firm launched a greenfield office in downtown Houston last month, where it will fill two floors of the city’s tallest building, the BG Tower, with up to 30 lateral hires over the next quarter. Firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan says Reed Smith has already recruited several partners and associates from leading local firms.

Pay for female lawyers not up by much


Pay for male lawyers in the UK is significantly down from 2011, while women enjoyed a small rise in salary in 2012. Despite this sliver of positive news, the gender imbalance continues with male and female lawyers still receiving dramatically different treatment. The profession still has a long way to go.

Recent research from recruiter Laurence Simons found that average pay for male lawyers – both in-house and in private practice – was down £5,000 on 2011, while pay among female lawyers was up by nearly £1,400. Even considering this feeble rise, men on average in the legal profession made over £50,000 more than women last year. Average salary for male lawyers was £162,689 compared to £111,293 for female lawyers looks pretty bad.

Manchester market takes another hit as Cobbetts seeks saviours


With Manchester-based Cobbetts on the verge of administration, signalling increasingly difficult market conditions in the north, local rivals will surely be able to snap up some bargains and save jobs.

The firm, ranked 62nd in the LB100, announced on 30 January that it was seeking to obtain ‘statutory moratorium to enable a sale of the business and assets of the firm to be concluded in a short time’. The news has sent shockwaves across the legal market and puts Manchester at the epicentre of law firm casualties following the demise of Halliwells in 2010.

Cleary and 2012 GC take top prizes in 2013 Legal Business Awards


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Linklaters and London 2012’s Terry Miller were among the key prize-winners at last night’s Legal Business Awards.

Cleary Gottlieb was named Law Firm of the Year from a shortlist including Baker & McKenzie, Bristows, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, RPC and Travers Smith. The Wall Street leader was singled out for a truly outstanding year, combining cutting-edge mandates such as Greece’s sovereign bond restructuring and advising Rosneft on its $55bn acquisition of TNK-BP, while posting the highest five-year growth rate of any elite global law firm.