The Last Word: Gender agenda

The Last Word: Gender agenda

‘Firms have to be flexible and acknowledge they may have fantastic senior associates who want to put their partnership ambitions on hold for a few years while they have a family.’ Isabella Roberts, Simmons & Simmons

Following on from our Alphas 2.0 feature, we ask female deal stars to talk about the challenges they have faced and still plague the industry today

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Big Law’s diversity stats remain uninspiring – time to revisit the problem of social mobility

Big Law’s diversity stats remain uninspiring – time to revisit the problem of social mobility

As we go to press on Legal Businessthird annual ESG report, the data points gathered on firms’ ethnicity and gender diversity make for disheartening reading, not least because they are entirely predictable in their lack of substantive progress from last year.

In truth, the continued lack of engagement on diversity data as part of our ESG survey among many of the top 25 Legal Business 100 and top 25 Global London firms is wearing a little thin now. Continue reading “Big Law’s diversity stats remain uninspiring – time to revisit the problem of social mobility”

A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience

A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience

The most enjoyable part of analysing the proposed merger of Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling has been hearing the reactions of leaders at peer firms to the video featuring senior partners Wim Dejonghe and Adam Hakki.

Hot-takes from around the City have been often amusing. Says one US firm leader: ‘It’s clearly not a merger, is it? It’s a takeover of Shearman by A&O, isn’t it?’ And it certainly does feel like A&O’s Dejonghe is in the driving seat of what is undeniably a slick pitch, even if it does, at times, look like Hakki is in a hostage situation. Continue reading “A&O Shearman is a marriage of necessity, not convenience”

The Last Word: On message

The Last Word: On message

‘I’m of the view that there’s no such thing as an ESG lawyer. What we can do, by educating the trainees as they come in, is help them to understand ESG, so that it can permeate their practices throughout their careers.’ Rachel Richardson, Macfarlanes

On the back of our third annual ESG report, key decision makers share their perspectives on key issues affecting law firms

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Revolving doors: Freshfields unveils multiple hires in US amid busy week for London firms

Revolving doors: Freshfields unveils multiple hires in US amid busy week for London firms

Amid a hectic start to June for lateral hiring, Freshfields has had a busy week, having added four new partners to both its London and New York practices. Derivatives and structured products specialist James Duncan will join the firm’s global transactions practice in London from Shearman & Sterling, following the news of its merger with A&O.

Duncan will advise the firm’s existing corporate, financial institution, financial sponsor, and private capital clients on cross-border transactions, strategic equity solutions and equity financings. Continue reading “Revolving doors: Freshfields unveils multiple hires in US amid busy week for London firms”

Oversharing? Navigating social media can be fraught but there is much to admire

Oversharing? Navigating social media can be fraught but there is much to admire

It’s surprising how much conversations around social media have shifted over the last three years. There used to be a tacit understanding that LinkedIn was for professional posts only, deal announcements, partner moves, conferences, market commentary and the like, while Facebook (and Twitter, if you really must) was for everything else. Hilarious memes and posts about your children/pet/culinary experiment/exercise humblebrag had no place on a professional networking platform.

That all changed dramatically with the onset of Covid and nothing to do but use social media as the main means of communicating with the outside world. One contact, who is rather more Gen X than Millennial, bemoaned an internal memo instructing people to show more of a human side in the curation of their Zoom backgrounds and on LinkedIn. Wasn’t this a bit awkward? Do I really want my clients knowing (horror of horrors) the ins and outs of my domestic life? It was a particularly British quandary, a cultural aversion to oversharing; the online equivalent of maintaining a professional stiff upper lip. Continue reading “Oversharing? Navigating social media can be fraught but there is much to admire”

Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince – a lesson in how not to run your law firm

Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince –  a lesson in how not to run your law firm

‘In the event of a recession, the lawyers will be fine. They always are. Unless you work at Ince.’

Reflecting now on this remark made by a senior contact last August, it is clear that the writing has been on the wall for Ince for quite some time and that its parent company, Ince Group, going into administration was probably the only realistic outcome of this sorry saga. Continue reading “Cautionary tales: The downfall of Ince – a lesson in how not to run your law firm”

A wholly subjective (but nonetheless definitive) guide to law firms from a $300m client on how to make a successful pitch*

A wholly subjective (but nonetheless definitive) guide to law firms from a $300m client on how to make a successful pitch*

David Burgess, publishing director of The Legal 500, asks David Stark, chief legal officer at Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Trevor Faure (pictured), chief executive of Smarter Law Solutions, for their views. Warning – this may make for uncomfortable reading

In 2020, Teva Pharmaceuticals conducted a law firm selection process unprecedented in scale and sophistication within the profession (see ‘On notice: Teva’s entire $330m legal spend could go to one law firm’, The Legal 500, Summer 2019). Despite deploying ground-breaking quality vs cost correlation analysis, selection also involved the traditional panel interview meetings when two dozen of the world’s top law firms met Teva’s legal management team to pitch their propositions, with surprising and salutary results. The cutting-edge, data-driven selection methodology Teva used is well-founded (see ‘Harvard Law The Practice – Smarter Relationships in Legal Services’, November/December 2019) so instead, here are a dozen entirely unscientific but equally compelling approaches for winning business at the face-to-face selection stage. These findings are not the result of rigorous research, merely the bemused observations about what actually took place in these decisive meetings, ie, this stuff really happens. Continue reading “A wholly subjective (but nonetheless definitive) guide to law firms from a $300m client on how to make a successful pitch*”

The Last Word: London manifesto

The Last Word: London manifesto

‘We already have a strong European offering and our current expansion plans are centred on partner-level and team hires that support us in providing our clients with the best possible industry and subject matter experts.’ Tamara Box, Reed Smith

To mark the launch of our 2023 Global London analysis, we ask senior figures at leading US firms for a progress report

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Shearman and Hogan Lovells – better the devil you don’t

Shearman and Hogan Lovells – better the devil you don’t

This comment piece has been updated to reflect an announcement late on Thursday (2 March) that merger talks between Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells have been called off. In a joint statement, the firms said: ‘As has been widely reported, our firms have been in preliminary and exploratory conversations regarding a possible combination. After careful consideration, we have mutually agreed that a combination at this time is not in the best interest of either firm. We have been deeply impressed with each other’s business, practices and people and wish each other continued success.’

It’s funny how the market gets about law firm mergers. Ringing around various senior lawyers for a hot take on what they thought of a Shearman & Sterling and Hogan Lovells tie-up, most were pretty scathing.

‘A merger of losers’ and ‘a combination of mediocre and mediocre’ were just two pejorative remarks being flung around the Square Mile. Few were kind. Now that the dust has settled on the idea, and I hold my hand up to playing devil’s advocate on this one, these initial reactions strike me as a little churlish. Continue reading “Shearman and Hogan Lovells – better the devil you don’t”