Ashurst revamps partner capital system

News that Ashurst is adopting a capital contribution system for partners this year finally brings the City International firm in line with the rest of its major rivals in the City.

As part of the reorganisation, each Ashurst equity partner will be asked to pay in a one-off capital contribution based on the number of equity points they hold. Currently, the firm does not ask partners to pay in capital, but retains a percentage of partner profits each year that is then distributed to partners when they leave or retire. The move is a bid to align capital contributions from lateral hires and homegrown talent, and bring the firm in line with its Australian merger partner Blake Dawson.

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Liberalisation of Singapore market gathers pace

The Singapore Ministry of Law (MinLaw) stopped receiving applications from foreign law firms seeking a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) licence at the end of August. Twenty-three firms have applied for a QFLP, with UK-based Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, DLA Piper, Olswang and Stephenson Harwood all confirming that they have applied for licences alongside US firms Jones Day, K&L Gates, Watson, Farley & Williams, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Shearman & Sterling.

Singapore used to only allow foreign firms to work alongside domestic practices in limited joint ventures. However, in 2008 MinLaw granted six QFLPs to Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith, Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose and White & Case, allowing those firms to practise Singaporean law with some restrictions. The latest moves reflect the increasing interest of international firms in practising local law.

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DLA Piper ramps up French offering with boutique addition

DLA Piper’s recent takeover of French corporate boutique Frieh Bouhenic is the most significant development in a spate of activity involving UK-based international firms in Paris at the end of the summer.

The international giant officially joined forces with the corporate firm on 1 October. Eleven-partner Frieh Bouhenic is ranked in the second tier for private equity in The Legal 500 EMEA, with a particular reputation for leveraged buyout work. Recent highlights include advising the consortium comprising Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, AXA Private Equity and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec on the acquisition of SPIE.

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No drop in demand for external legal advice

Results from our first-ever in-house survey show that companies’ legal budgets have largely stayed the same or even increased while demand for external services has risen, debunking the myth that widespread cuts to legal budgets have forced general counsel (GC) to instruct law firms less.

Canvassing the views of more than 100 in-house lawyers worldwide, the survey showed that 50% of respondents’ legal services budgets remained unchanged in the last year, while 44% said that demand for external legal services had increased over the same period. This was despite the fact that 67% said their companies had a policy of retaining more matters in-house.

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Family law firms clamber to get arbitrators on board

Private client firms are scrambling to bolster their arbitration capabilities six months after family law arbitration was introduced in England and Wales. Family lawyers are reporting arbitration training programmes are fully booked going into 2013.

The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) launched the Family Law Arbitration Scheme in February this year as a viable alternative to the court process. The rising popularity of this method of resolving disputes means family law teams will be looking to offer this service as soon as possible.

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Rule changes put transfer pricing practices centre stage

The increased global focus of governments on tax avoidance means a handful of international law firms have been pushing their transfer pricing practices to the fore recently.

In July Macfarlanes announced the appointment of Martin Zetter to the new role of head of transfer pricing and senior economist in its tax and structuring group. Zetter joined the firm from Ernst & Young, where he was a director in its financial services transfer pricing group.

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Trowers unveils new strategy as Adlington bows out

Trowers & Hamlins senior partner elect Jennie Gubbins has told LB that she is looking to raise the firm’s corporate profile in the City and repair its ailing international offering after a bruising few years.

The firm’s current senior partner, Jonathan Adlington, has announced that he will be retiring next year. Gubbins, currently head of corporate at the firm, will replace him in March 2013.

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CMS group moves closer to one-firm model

The CMS group, which passed a major milestone this summer when it provided its financial results as a single entity for the first time, has told LB that it is looking to drop local firm names to strengthen its international brand.

‘We have been looking at the risks of being regarded as a single firm under this type of structure and we have decided we want to move forward towards being a single firm,’ said Duncan Weston, managing partner of UK member firm CMS Cameron McKenna. ‘We’ve already adopted a single visual identity as part of the conversion: the name CMS with law and tax underneath – a logo we decided upon two years ago.’

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Katten Muchin Rosenman continues hiring spree

US firm Katten Muchin Rosenman remains on the charge in London following the hire of tax partner Sanjay Mehta from Stephenson Harwood in August. The latest hire comes at the end of a highly acquisitive year that has seen the Chicago-based firm make five lateral hires in six months.

This follows a triple hire to Katten’s real estate team in July, which included Stephen John as special counsel and Ranjeev Kumar as partner from the London office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, alongside Joe Payne from Field Fisher Waterhouse.

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Positive early signs at combined firm King & Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has enjoyed a successful first six months as a single firm, according to Handel Lee, head of the firm’s East China offices, who added that Africa could be the next destination for the firm en route to London and New York.

The firm, which went live in March, topped mergermarket’s Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) M&A league tables for volume for the first half of 2012, placing it ahead of Baker & McKenzie, Freehills and Clifford Chance in the table. The firm did 35 deals worth a total of $9.2bn.

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