Scottish fire sale continues as DWF snaps up Biggart Baillie

Merger fever continues to grip the Scottish legal market after veteran firm Biggart Baillie announced in June that it would be joining forces with ambitious Major UK firm DWF on 1 July.

The merger between Biggart Baillie, a Scottish blueblood which can trace its origins back to 1894, and LB’s 2011 National/Regional firm of the Year DWF, is the fifth Anglo-Scottish union since the start of the year. It follows a joint venture between DAC Beachcroft and Andersons, which was announced in March; the acquisition of niche Scottish practice Anderson Fyfe by TLT, which takes effect in July; the announcement in June that Shoosmiths would acquire Archibald Campbell & Harley; and the high-profile merger of Pinsent Masons and McGrigors, which went live on 1 May.

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NHSLA looks to control growing legal spend in panel review

Newly appointed NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) chief executive Catherine Dixon’s priority will be getting value for money and using law firms to engage with NHS trusts as she prepares for a legal panel review later this year.

Dixon joined the NHSLA in April from the NSPCC where she was general counsel and company secretary. She was previously head of legal at Bupa and in private practice at Eversheds. She replaces outgoing NHSLA chief executive Steve Walker.

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FSA scrutiny increases financial service practitioners’ workload

Financial regulation partners are now in even higher demand as financial institution clients panic after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) recently fined former J.P. Morgan Cazenove banker Ian Hannam £450,000 for market abuse.

The financial watchdog issued the fine against Hannam after he allegedly shared financial information ahead of a deal, violating the so-called ‘wall-crossing’ rule.

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Mixed fortunes for mid-market in tough Scots climate

TLT’s recent takeover of niche Scottish firm Anderson Fyfe is the latest chapter in a flurry of movement among mid-market firms in Scotland trying to secure their futures amid pernicious market conditions.

The Bristol-based firm is set to acquire Anderson Fyfe’s Glasgow and Edinburgh operations from July, while simultaneously launching a Northern Ireland practice through the lateral hire of banking litigation partner Katharine Kimber from Belfast firm Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors.

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Emerging markets dominate 2012 partner promotions round

Good news for senior associates in emerging markets: there are now more partners than ever being made up in Asia. If you are an aspiring associate in Asia or Australia you stand a much greater chance of making partner at a UK firm now than five years ago. According to data collected by LB, this year the UK’s top 25 firms made up 48 partners in Asia, compared to just 26 in 2008.

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Australia tempts yet another major international player

Linklaters has joined the ranks of its Magic Circle peers by moving into the Australian market via an alliance with Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR).

The alliance, which went through on 1 May, was planned over a year ago, according to a source close to the firm. AAR, which had operated an exclusive relationship with Slaughter and May, is viewed by many as one of the best in the region.

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Rival firms benefit from imminent Dewey collapse in City

With troubled US firm Dewey & LeBoeuf on the brink of collapse, a number of firms have already stepped in to boost their City offerings by providing homes to small groups of partners. Twenty-four of the firm’s 33 London partners had plans to leave the firm at press time.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has emerged as the most acquisitive firm in London, taking six former Dewey partners in the capital, including its former London managing partner Peter Sharp.

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Quinn Emanuel snags A&O London arbitration duo

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has ruffled Allen & Overy (A&O)’s feathers in London after the US litigation specialist hired the Magic Circle firm’s global arbitration chairman Stephen Jagusch and fellow partner Anthony Sinclair in May. The firms are understood to be locking horns over the departure terms, with a deal yet to be struck.

The hires will see Quinn Emanuel launch its own City arbitration practice, to be led by Jagusch. While the firm has already had some success in arbitration work in London, it plans to grow the office to 35 lawyers, of which ten will be partners.

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Throwing a lifeline from a sinking ship


In early May, members of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s management team left the firm. One headed for the greener pastures of O’Melveny & Myers; one headed for a new home at Winston & Strawn; while the others went to Proskauer Rose and Arnold & Porter. Online message boards lit up like a Christmas tree, with commentators likening those moves to ‘rats fleeing a sinking ship’ and to Francesco Schettino, the captain who allegedly left the sinking Costa Cruise ship off the coast of Italy.

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Scams driving another bumper year for insurance firms

Leading insurance firms that reported unprecedented revenue and headcount growth in their counter-fraud teams in 2011 expect this trend to continue in 2012.

Many firms have some capability in insurance fraud, however the biggest reported growth in the sector is undoubtedly within motor fraud. This is a practice area dominated by regional and national firms such as Keoghs, Hill Dickinson, DWF, Berrymans Lace Mawer, Weightmans and DAC Beachcroft. All saw sizeable increases within their teams in 2011.

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