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TLT, Latham & Watkins and Compass Group were among the major winners at the 2023 Legal Business Awards, which welcomed more than 800 guests to the Grosvenor House hotel on 19 September.
Hosted by actor, writer, and producer Sally Phillips (pictured, below), the evening saw TLT crowned Law Firm of the Year, with judges particularly impressed by its stellar performance over the past few years, with a strong financial performance in 2021/22 underpinned by key client wins. Continue reading “TLT, Latham and Compass Group among the big winners at 26th Legal Business Awards”
I head up our criminal defence and police investigations team as well as our sexual misconduct in the workplace practice. I am interested in people, and I guess I am a nosey person.
I decided to become a lawyer because I wanted to have my own voice. In my twenties, I was a team leader in a child protection social services team. I would have done an assessment, done the work, known the family, thought I had made good decisions, but then it would get reinterpreted a couple of times for me. The legal department would say ‘this is what you mean’, then the barrister would say ‘this is what the legal department have told me that you mean’. I thought: ‘Actually – maybe I can say what I mean.’ These people were doing a job that I knew was hard, but nowhere near as hard as turning up to these families’ homes and making decisions about their children. So, I decided to do the conversion and see what would happen. I didn’t know if it would be for me, as I am not the usual type of person that becomes a lawyer. Continue reading “Life During Law: Sandra Paul”
Grabbing headlines in recent weeks, Paul Weiss has pursued an English law offering at breakneck speed, hiring some of the City’s biggest hitters. Here LB canvasses the reactions of industry peers to the Wall Street giant’s bold play.
‘The firm was keen to do something for a while and spoke to a lot of people in the market. But it needed a big name to lead it,’ commented one source with knowledge of the matter. And it is fair to say that Paul Weiss’ hire of debt superstar Neel Sachdev from Kirkland & Ellis has arguably been the most groundbreaking move the City has seen since buyout star David Higgins left Freshfields for Kirkland in 2017. Continue reading “Go big or go home: Market reacts to Paul Weiss’ daring London play”
‘You’ve now got one more 64,000lb gorilla,’ said one former UK firm leader, in response to the news that the merger of Allen & Overy (A&O) and Shearman & Sterling will proceed.
On 13 October, the firms announced the end of partnership voting on the combination, with more than 99% of votes cast at each firm in favour. The firms are due to combine as A&O Shearman from May 2024 at the latest, creating ‘the first fully integrated global elite law firm’, with nearly 4,000 lawyers across 48 offices in 29 countries. Continue reading “Partners vote yes on A&O Shearman – now they have to make it work”
Drawing a long-running saga to its inevitable conclusion, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced on 3 October that it had closed down Axiom Ince with immediate effect following its intervention to protect the interest of clients and former clients of the firm.
Regarding the intervention, the SRA said: ‘We will stop the firm from operating, take possession of all documents and papers held by the firm, and take possession of all money held by the firm (including clients’ money). We are not responsible towards employees or trade creditors of firms that we have intervened in.’ Continue reading “‘A salutary lesson’: Axiom Ince closed by SRA following months of turmoil”
September saw it finally confirmed that, as suspected, M&A lawyer Roger Johnson will join Paul Weiss’ new English law offering, leaving Kirkland after the firm’s management discovered that he was in discussions to take a team to a US rival firm. Johnson joins former Kirkland colleague Neel Sachdev who moved to Paul Weiss in August. Indeed, September was not the easiest month for Kirkland, which suffered further losses to McDermott in New York and London from its transactions and employment practices.
The rest of the London and international markets have also been hectic, picking up after the summer lull with notable lateral activity reported in corporate, energy and infrastructure, finance and employment in particular. Continue reading “Kirkland endures more losses as Magic Circle firms continue expansion in the US and Middle East”
In April 2023, LEX360 and The Legal 500 held the UK’s first ever legal Gemba Walk, utilising methods from Lean Six Sigma. Gemba is from the Japanese for ‘the real place’, and it is the most important place for a team as it is where the work happens. The Gemba Walk allows management teams to leave their daily routines, and experience how the team works and build better trust relationships, understand the issues, and find solutions. Our first Gemba Walk was provided by the award-winning legal team at E.ON UK.
Based on our research, there are five actions that legal leaders should undertake to drive a culture of continuous improvement:
- Clarity of purpose – The legal leader must understand and be able to explain what their business expects from the legal function today and in the future. Having a clear strategic plan ensures that a gap analysis can be undertaken between current and future state to achieve the goal including timelines and costs.
- Prioritising improvement opportunities notwithstanding barriers such as budget, time and other resources – Often with a bit of vision, leadership and space, team members will step up and drive initiatives that will deliver personal or professional gain. Utilising existing technology stack, wider business initiatives or opportunities from the supply chain constraints can be managed.
- Creating an improvement mindset for the function – Many lawyers are fixated on perfection, which can prohibit continuous improvement and therefore legal leaders should create an open, inclusive workplace where the team are free to experiment and are recognised equally for the wins and the failures. An environment where ‘to do my job and improve my job’ are both important.
- Look at adjacent teams and businesses for best practice – Blueprints for most legal problems exist, attending conferences and having information calls to understand how others have addressed your priorities can circumvent inefficiencies. The legal eco-system is great for sharing know-how and best practice, therefore utilise your connections.
- Help the team understand ‘the art of the possible’ of what helming a transformation project could mean to them personally by highlighting industry role models or career paths – Every senior legal job description today has an element of how general counsel (GCs) have embedded strategy and delivery. Time spent on legal improvement projects will enhance CVs and create examples for interviews.
Story of E.ON
E.ON presented to an excited audience their background, their ESG and digital transformation journey. Some of the key highlights are listed below:
- Purpose: To provide personalised energy solutions to our customers.
- Aspiration: Drive to Net Zero by 2030.
- Over six million customers and 8,000 employees
The role of the legal team: they are there to help colleagues with commercial decisions, risk appetite discussions, experience, and knowledge of corporate history, all of which are not strictly speaking ‘Legal’ but add value to our business. E.ON’s GC Kirin Kalsi provided: ‘there are no silos – resource is utilised on a fluid basis depending on capacity and specialism, including on special projects’.
They have one firm outsource arrangement, outsourcing non-BAU work (such as disputes and M&A) and to cover peak periods (eg, close to year end) ‘as they do not resource to cover peaks, but to cover base load, therefore peaks require external support’.
The Gemba walk included E.ON sharing the great work that the legal team have been doing on ESG and their net zero goals.
Goals of LEAP
The legal industry is littered with articles and conferences chasing the latest shiny object that will ‘transform’ in-house teams with ‘innovative solutions’ et al. The issue many have with this is that it can often feel like an echo chamber of the same names, saying the same thing to the same clique. Change is hard, and for in-house teams to enable change, practical help is needed, and the best way to learn how to enable change is to listen to people who have done it. To hear how they did it, the failures and successes, and the things they would do differently.
Legal Excellence Pioneers (LEAP) is a transformative learning academy for the in-house legal community. Attendees benefit from in-depth case studies provided by pioneering counsel. The case studies will outline the highs and lows experienced during specified improvement projects.
A partnership between Mo Zain Ajaz (LEX360) and The Legal500, LEAP will feature immersive presentations centred around the A3 concept from Lean Six Sigma. The concept covers the following steps:
- Goals: The transformation, why it was chosen, and how it was achieved.
- Resources: The team, tools, and systems used to deliver the outcome.
- Learnings: Reflections on the successes and setbacks experienced.
- Roadmap: An overview of the organisation’s strategic vision for the next three years.
- Purpose-led: LEAP is dedicated to offering value-driven content, tools, and know-how. Our events will be based on extensive research, providing a high-quality learning experience.
- Addressing industry problems: Research from GCs reveals enduring challenges across intake, delivery, supply chain, and technology. LEAP will provide a blueprint for addressing these issues to bring about lasting change.
- Lean principles: Leveraging tried and tested methodologies from the Lean Six Sigma world to showcase the transformations.
- Building a network: By attending LEAP events, in-house counsel will build a network of peers for ongoing support beyond the events.
David Burgess, publishing director, The Legal 500
Emily Bernstein is an experienced private banker at Investec who specialises in supporting legal leaders and senior lawyers. Here, she tackles the unique financial challenges facing senior legal professionals Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Ask the private banker to senior lawyers”
Sponsored briefing: The importance of maintaining a constructive media relationship throughout litigation
The potential for reputational damage from ongoing litigation is increasingly recognised across the legal sector. Even where the value of a dispute going through court may be relatively small, the reputational damage that can result from the hearings – particularly at trial – can be vastly greater. It is therefore vital to have a comprehensive strategy in place to manage any media attention that the case may receive, both to put the client’s narrative forward and to parry any talking points floated by the other side.
While it may seem advantageous to seek to minimise media attention at all costs during hearings that are likely to go poorly, this can often backfire. Seeking to push forward the client’s position and narrative only during positive parts of a case, and otherwise largely not engaging with the media, can cause long-term issues for credibility when working with those journalists relying on the parties for information around a case. Litigation is a contact sport both in the courtroom and in the press, and it is vital to have a team of experts advocating for you in both arenas. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: The importance of maintaining a constructive media relationship throughout litigation”