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”

Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator

Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator

The High Court ruling in November that overturned the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT)’s finding against ex-Freshfields partner Ryan Beckwith has sent shockwaves reverberating around the profession.

In the unlikely event that the substance of the ruling has escaped anyone, the Queen’s Bench Division’s judgment reversed the SDT’s October 2019 findings that Beckwith’s drunken sexual activity with an intoxicated associate breached Principles 2 and 6 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s code of conduct, reversed his £35,000 fine and quashed the £200,000 costs order. Continue reading “Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator”

Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise

Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise

So, after a six-month hiatus we have returned and much has changed. Writing this as we enter a second national lockdown in the UK seems surreal but we hope that this issue finds you in a robust mood, ready to do business for your clients and able to challenge the hysteria peddled by the mainstream media as much as possible.

As Covid-19 took hold, every business changed irreversibly and Legal Business was no exception. Over the Spring and Summer months, a number of highly respected and much-loved colleagues moved on, including editor-in-chief since 2013 Alex Novarese, who has embarked upon the next stage of his career. I would like to personally thank Alex not only for his outstanding achievements with this title over the past seven plus years but also for being an amazing mentor and friend. Continue reading “Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise”

Falling angels: Freshfields faces cum-ex repercussions

Falling angels: Freshfields faces cum-ex repercussions

It has been a difficult year for Freshfields. In PR terms it has been an annus horribilis, and the enormity of the challenge faced by the firm’s first female senior partner, Georgia Dawson, cannot be understated.

Seemingly unable to move on from damaging #MeToo allegations; suggestions of an inappropriate drinking culture; an incomplete UK move to Bishopsgate; and a succession of high-profile departures culminating in Skadden’s poaching of Bruce Embley on the eve of Dawson’s appointment; all have contributed to keeping Freshfields in the press for the wrong reasons. Continue reading “Falling angels: Freshfields faces cum-ex repercussions”

For the profession, as the world, the coronavirus is a moment of truth

For the profession, as the world, the coronavirus is a moment of truth

The longer you do this job, the more your mind wanders to the big moments – recessions, terrorist attacks, political shocks, wars. Yet as I sit here typing this leader in a near-deserted London office, the majority of our team working from home as we try to put this issue to bed, it is a struggle to recall anything that compares to the coronavirus pandemic spreading through the world.

We face unprecedented times – hyperbole typically flung around with abandon until you realise with shock that this time it applies. As I write, London and New York, those famous global cities and the world’s two dominant legal hubs, look within days of total lockdown. Continue reading “For the profession, as the world, the coronavirus is a moment of truth”