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”

Latham vs K&E means that everyone else loses

Latham vs K&E means that everyone else loses

Skadden Arps, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and, currently, Kirkland & Ellis – over the last 30 years these firms have all at one time had claims to have been the most influential law firms of their age, the pioneers that defined the top of the profession through dash, ambition and imagination.

And many senior lawyers would think that list is missing the name of the institution that looked unchallenged until the Kirkland effect gripped the market in the last three years. Continue reading “Latham vs K&E means that everyone else loses”

Cranes in the sky: UK real estate market rebuilds

Cranes in the sky: UK real estate market rebuilds

With real estate investment moving out of paralysis post-election, Muna Abdi asks which firms are best prepared to take advantage

The enduring political and economic quagmire in the UK, initially shaped by the 2016 Brexit referendum, provided much of the framework for pessimistic commentary towards the end of the decade on many sectors, not least real estate. But the start of 2020 has brought fresh impetus: ‘The end of Corbynism will encourage most in the real estate market, which is not known for its left-wing leanings. It will also see a return of the uber-rich to London with high-end and luxury residential already experiencing a massive boost,’ predicts Eversheds Sutherland head of London real estate, Bruce Dear. Continue reading “Cranes in the sky: UK real estate market rebuilds”

Allen & Overy’s election delivered an all-star line-up but have the big issues been resolved?

Allen & Overy’s election delivered an all-star line-up but have the big issues been resolved?

Towards the end of 2019, Legal Business remarked that the issue at the heart of Allen & Overy (A&O)’s looming leadership election was if the process would resolve whether the winners could achieve the right to genuinely lead the City giant. Now that the election has concluded, with the re-election of Wim Dejonghe (pictured) as senior partner and the elevation of projects and energy head Gareth Price as managing partner in place of Andrew Ballheimer, it is far from clear that the point has been settled.

That is not a criticism of the calibre of the candidates and winners. Generally regarded as the best managed of the Magic Circle’s four internationalists, A&O certainly attracted a line-up of heavyweight candidates, by no means a given in law firm leadership run-offs. This was most obvious in the contest between Dejonghe and banking co-head Philip Bowden for senior partner and Price and litigation head Karen Seward for the managing partner brief. Continue reading “Allen & Overy’s election delivered an all-star line-up but have the big issues been resolved?”

Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders

Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders

If much of the commentary in this issue focuses on what has gone awry for major UK law firms in the previous decade, this column will tackle one big opportunity ahead and there is no bigger opportunity for City firms than the US.

Now for many, the received wisdom is that the London elite have wasted their chance, leaving the vast US legal market effectively closed to them. There is much to that argument. Had the group built on their initial beachheads in the early 2000s, the picture would be very different now. Clifford Chance (CC) partners still lament the Rogers & Wells tie-up, a mis-sold marriage that nonetheless offered a basis for growth that CC instead spent the next 15 years squandering. Had it achieved a conservative 3-5% annual growth at this practice after the deal, it would be generating over $600m stateside now. Continue reading “Cracking Wall St is the prize of the decade for City leaders”

Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession

Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession

Barely into 2020 and news came that probably the most influential business thinker of the last 20 years had passed away. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who died on 23 January at the age of 67, entered the business world and then popular culture with his concept of ‘disruptive innovation’, which was first outlined in 1995. The model came to wider prominence in the 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma and was to grow in stature along with the rise of the US buccaneering technology giants through the 2000s.

As a study of how small upstarts can upend and ultimately crush huge, well-run industry leaders, the book’s ideas spoke to a globalising world economy in which technology and new operating models made it easier for apparently-unrelated industries to collide. Continue reading “Remembering Mr Disruption – The innovator’s legacy for the profession”