This time, walk the talk behind the ESG bandwagon

This time, walk the talk behind the ESG bandwagon

Three letters seem to be everywhere you look these days: ESG. Law firm after law firm seems to be offering environmental, social and governance advice and even new practice teams to corporates on a weekly basis. Press releases talk about helping clients ‘navigate the regulatory requirements’ and ‘lead the way’. The fastest land animal is arguably not the cheetah, but instead a lawyer jumping on the ESG bandwagon.

Excuse me for sounding a little jaded. It’s just that we’ve been here before with three little letters: CSR. At first that was all about good intentions, firms demonstrating their commitment to corporate social responsibility. But it soon descended into a cynical PR exercise, with those that did a bit of pro bono, an occasional charity bake-off and remembered to turn their lights off once in a while touting themselves as the epitome of CSR best practice. This was before the global financial crisis came and took many of those good intentions away. Continue reading “This time, walk the talk behind the ESG bandwagon”

Letting go: anathema to a control-freak partner

Letting go: anathema to a control-freak partner

Two observations from the GC of BT Technology, Chris Fowler, stand out in our innovation feature, ‘Arrested development’. One: ‘If the work is repeatable and needs delivering to certain set outcomes at a certain price point, you become agnostic as to who is actually doing the work’ – suggesting the sacred cult of the individual may be diminishing in the eyes of clients. Two: ‘It always appears to us that the partner wins the work, the partner prices the work, and the partner delivers the work. I struggle with that in today’s world.’

While partnership and megalomania can go hand-in-hand, we have come a long way from the days when power-play behaviour from individual partners could actually hurt firms. Control has been ceded in many areas, recognising that allowing business professionals to play their part and junior lawyers to develop on the job enhances the offering that clients receive. Continue reading “Letting go: anathema to a control-freak partner”

Hope floats for City listing overhaul but American audacity is vital

Hope floats for City listing overhaul but American audacity is vital

City business has had cause to take heart in recent months with a clear display of political will behind an overhaul of UK listing rules that could see London shake off its Brexit and pandemic woes and reassert itself as a global financial hub. Our Global London report finds US and European firms alike concerned about the status of their London offices now that Brexit is a hard reality.

Proposals set out in the UK Listing Review in March, led by Lord Hill, will particularly pique the interest of anyone tracking the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) market. Indeed, the ubiquity of those deals has made them difficult to miss. There has been much talk of London jumping on the bandwagon in a fit of FOMO as other listing destinations, especially the US and Amsterdam, pile into that frothy market with gusto. However, to say that London has been lagging competitors in the US, Europe and Asia for too long is an understatement, and any shake-up to expedite parity with peers has not come a moment too soon. Continue reading “Hope floats for City listing overhaul but American audacity is vital”

The work from home dilemma – get creative

The work from home dilemma – get creative

If 2020 was about surviving coronavirus and lockdown, 2021 is most certainly about rebuilding and making up for lost time. With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout progressing well, and pubs and shops reopening ahead of a supposed return to normality by late June, going back to the office is becoming a reality.

As The Legal 500 UK editor Georgina Stanley points out in ‘Living at work’, the past year has seen the stigma that working from home is less productive than long office hours eradicated, but we have also lost the benefits of spontaneous social interaction with clients and colleagues and the ease of separation between work and home life. As for the younger generation of lawyers, they are suffering from a lack of face time with clients and partners, losing out on crucial training and development. Continue reading “The work from home dilemma – get creative”

The Last Word: Law in a time of Covid

The Last Word: Law in a time of Covid

‘A year ago, the penny was beginning to drop about the significant challenges of the pandemic. The strength and diversity of our practices and people have helped us as we navigated through with our clients.’ Oliver Brettle, White & Case

To mark the launch of our 2021 Global London report, we asked senior figures at leading US firms for their thoughts

Continue reading “The Last Word: Law in a time of Covid”

Learning from the ghosts of decades past

Learning from the ghosts of decades past

Although it seems like I’ve been around forever, I wasn’t here when Legal Business first hit desks in January 1990. I was probably listening to Soul II Soul’s Club Classics Vol. One, worrying about my 16th birthday and GCSEs coming up that summer.

I joined Legalease in the autumn of 1997 amid a very vibrant time for the UK and its legal market. We were just a couple of months into the heady days of New Labour; the accountants were all over Big Law; and the Magic Circle firms were rampaging all over Europe. Continue reading “Learning from the ghosts of decades past”

Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none

Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none

The whimpering conclusion to the three-year saga that dragged City law into the middle of #MeToo could hardly have been more frustrating for everyone concerned.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) announced in January that it had decided to stay proceedings against Allen & Overy employment veteran Mark Mansell (aka Solicitor Z) relating to a non-disclosure agreement drawn up for disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 1998. The grounds for the decision were that Mansell’s ill health meant that continuing with a trial posed a significant risk to his life. Continue reading “Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none”

Not a roaring start to the 2020s but bravery is key

Not a roaring start to the 2020s but bravery is key

The ink was barely dry on our cover feature at the start of this year – an upbeat look at how the UK profession will evolve through the 2020s following a bruising decade – when a global pandemic hit. Despite an apocalyptic lockdown year, the piece – ‘The vision thing’ – has aged well and makes for interesting reading in the context of what has happened. But any optimism to be gleaned from our predictions for a resurgent legal profession over the next decade has been tempered in the current climate.

But as the Roaring Twenties came to an abrupt end in 1929 with the Wall Street Crash, so can we hope that this decade can work in reverse. It has started with a crisis but law firms, hardened by more than a decade of conditioning and resilience, are better placed to pick themselves up and dust themselves down. Continue reading “Not a roaring start to the 2020s but bravery is key”