The cutting edge

Warrior on mobile phone

During Apple’s earnings conference call in May, chief executive Tim Cook discussed the company’s long-running and bitter dispute with Qualcomm, a company that manufactures internal components for the iPhone.

‘Qualcomm is trying to charge Apple a percentage of the total iPhone value. They do some great work around standard-essential patents, but Qualcomm’s component is only one small part of the iPhone. We don’t think that’s right, so we’re taking a principled stand on it and we strongly believe we’re in the right. I am sure they think they’re in the right, and that’s what courts are for.’
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Beware the Black Swan

Black feathers

Imagine the worst: within the last 72 hours, your company has been hit by a major crisis. There may have been serious damage to the community in which you operate. Your customers may have suffered, people’s livelihoods may have been destroyed, the environment may be irretrievably damaged. Some of your employees and contractors may be injured, or worse. Your investors will be livid, and the board looking to assign blame. By the end of the first week, chances are your organisation will be facing dozens of lawsuits, some set to become class actions over time.

At this early stage, you will realise that verifiable facts are few and far between. Opinions and rumours abound. You will have little or no idea of the extent of any physical or financial damage, or to what degree the organisation was complicit in the event. You do not even know which of your top team you can count on. Some of them may be implicated; others may be operationally inexperienced, unfamiliar with the political realities, or temperamentally unsuited to the new situation – filled with good intentions, but uncertain what role to play. Continue reading “Beware the Black Swan”

Banking on change

asian city

When the global financial crisis struck in 2008, the impact reverberated far beyond the traditional financial centres of the West. Initial speculation was that Asia would be relatively well insulated from the crisis due to the growing financial independence of the region. Instead, the effects hit at a speed and depth that surpassed all expectations. Under fire, financial institutions sought to reduce their exposure to the region, resulting in a steep decline in the value of currency and equity markets, at a time when the price and volume of exports was plummeting.

The immediate impact of the crisis gave way to an equally brisk recovery, bolstered by strong domestic demand in China and Indonesia preventing both economies from falling into recession. But while sophisticated financial centres were swift in their regulatory response to the crisis, particularly where reform to over-the-counter financial products and transparency were concerned, much of Asia has lagged behind. Continue reading “Banking on change”

Client profile: Angus McBride, News UK

Angus McBride, News UK

The veteran criminal defence lawyer turned legal head on bridging the gap between journalism and law

While a student at the University of Wales, Angus McBride mulled his career prospects. During his first year at university, he was obliged to choose three subjects to study. ‘I took English literature and philosophy and then decided I was going to do law as well. It was a last-minute thought.’ Continue reading “Client profile: Angus McBride, News UK”

Rebels with a clause – a new kind of group for a new kind of client

Tech-savvy, dynamic and fast-growing – the Disruptive GC group is on every law firm’s radar. Legal Business meets the hustling new kids on the block

For classists, the word ‘disruptive’ still carries negative connotations of damage, chaos and disarray. But these days in corporate circles it has become the phrase of the day – a complimentary shorthand to describe tech-driven innovators remaking all manner of industries. But the cult of disruption – birthed in Clayton Christensen’s hugely influential 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma – has truly come of age when it has reached not only the legal profession, but its in-house branch.

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Client profile: David Fein, Standard Chartered Bank

The former law firm partner turned banking giant GC on his globally-demanding role

As a former senior staffer in the Clinton administration, David Fein has a tendency to chart his career and life against the backdrop of US politics. While working as a state district attorney, it was early in Barack Obama’s second presidential term that Fein found himself getting wistful for a new challenge, one that would see him become general counsel (GC) of the FTSE 100 banking group Standard Chartered in his first move in-house. ‘I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted something new and so I thought something I hadn’t done was be a general counsel.’

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Client profile: Mark Cooper, Cadent Gas

The general counsel and company secretary of the newly-formed gas company on the importance of saying ‘yes’

Within a month of Mark Cooper joining National Grid (NG)’s in-house team in 2015, things became very busy very quickly. UK general counsel (GC) Rachael Davidson told him that one of the businesses he was looking after – NG’s gas distribution network – was going to be sold off.

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Dollars and sense – charting the GC response as sustainability hits the boardroom

A tougher risk environment is taking sustainability from PC fad to board-level concern… and onto the agendas of GCs. We teamed up with Linklaters to chart the client response in a world of ‘not quite legal’ risks

In his 1962 work Capitalism and Freedom, the economist Milton Friedman complained that ‘the view has been gaining widespread acceptance that corporate officials and labour leaders have a “social responsibility” that goes beyond serving the interest of their stockholders.’ This ‘fundamental misconception’ about how markets work, argued Friedman, ought to be replaced by the consensus that the only social responsibility of business was to increase profits ‘so long as it stays within the rules of the game’.

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Whose dime? – GCs push back against paying for junior lawyers

As Deutsche Bank baulks at paying for junior lawyers, is a tough line on ‘paying for training’ making its way across the Atlantic?

Even for City lawyers used to increasingly heavy-handed tactics in panel reviews from banking groups, it proved something of a shock. News earlier this year that Deutsche Bank had notified pitching firms of its unwillingness to pay for trainees and newly-qualified lawyers during its last adviser review sent a jolt through the UK legal market.

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