Legal Business

‘A third way’: Taylor Wessing enters alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

‘A third way’: Taylor Wessing enters alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini

Marco Cillario assesses Taylor Wessing’s alliance with Silicon Valley royalty Wilson Sonsini as RPC forges US insurance partnership

While the issue of securing a meaningful US footprint for many UK-bred firms endures, Taylor Wessing UK managing partner Shane Gleghorn claims his firm has found the way to gain transatlantic coverage without a complicated merger.

Legal Business

Lead sponsor message – RPC: The essential ingredients

Lead sponsor message – RPC: The essential ingredients

James Miller, RPC’s managing partner, looks at what makes the high performers in this year’s GC Powerlist

Vision, purpose, focus. In my experience as a managing partner, these are essential ingredients for high performance organisations; essential ingredients for high performance teams; and essential ingredients for high performance individuals.

Legal Business

Chicago firepower for RPC as insurance team secures formal US tie-up

Chicago firepower for RPC as insurance team secures formal US tie-up

RPC has announced its insurance practice will form an official alliance with Chicago-based law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson.

The partnership will see both firms deepen their existing relationship in the insurance sector, with talks regarding a formal alliance developing throughout January. The firms will now work together on pitching and client marketing as well as collaborating on professional indemnity mandates.

RPC insurance head, Simon Laird, told Legal Business: ‘This is very much an insurance sector play. Our clients have a big US dynamic and it’s somewhere we wanted to be more strategic. This is coming off the back of extensive client feedback and we chose Hinshaw because of the quality of conversation we had with them.’

Hinshaw & Culbertson is a national firm with 21 offices across the US, including New York, Massachusetts, Florida and California. Like RPC, the firm has a strong insurance offering and provides the UK firm with an entry point into the more mature market in the US. The American outfit appointed a new chairman last week, with Peter Sullivan taking the helm.

‘We have been working together for a while with discussions taking place over the last 12 to 18 months,’ Laird continued. ‘This is not an exclusive thing – there was not a day where we decided to stop and do something differently – things have just progressed and will continue to progress moving forward.’

The alliance makes RPC the latest insurance-focused firm to develop its US presence over the last two years, with Clyde &Co, HFW and Kennedys all having made moves. Taylor Wessing, meanwhile, entered an alliance with West Coast leader Wilson Sonsini last week with a tech-focused relationship.

The announcement follows RPC’s financial rebound last year, when profits increased 10% to hit £112.7m while net income rose to £28.9m, an improvement on the firm’s disappointing 2016/17.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Life during law: Jeremy Drew

Life during law: Jeremy Drew

My mother was always convinced I was going to be a barrister. She used to watch TV dramas involving barristers. My father, a much more practical man, was desperately trying to convince me I should do a subject that was useful. So I went into the law and really enjoyed it.

I started at Edwards Geldard, one of the ‘big four’ in Cardiff. I joined the IP group because I loved the tech side. Contentious and non-contentious surrounding tech: being paid to do what I enjoyed seemed amazing.

Legal Business

Enterprise GC 2018: Tumbling into crisis

Enterprise GC 2018: Tumbling into crisis

Corporate crises are on the upswing. A faster-paced R&D cycle, improved but riskier technology, 24-hour news… the list of triggers goes on. But our understanding of such events has not always evolved at the same pace. We speak of a crisis as a single incident but, in reality, a chain reaction will likely ensue – and no sooner than one element appears under control, another pops up.

A tumble into crisis

Let us imagine a company that is consumer-facing and has a large, warehouse-based workforce. Imagine it makes toys, sells them online and is called ‘Tumble Toys’. Speed and efficiency in dispatching little Billy or Betty’s heart’s desire is one of its market differentiators – its marketing campaign features a gorilla called Tumble, who makes his way through various perils to ‘tumble’ into the child’s house in various amusing ways. As with many companies, Tumble Toys has outsourced warehouse staffing to a third party.

Legal Business

RPC’s profits rebound amid 10% revenue growth after consulting arm produces ‘good results’

RPC’s profits rebound amid 10% revenue growth after consulting arm produces ‘good results’

RPC has followed up on last year’s disappointing financial performance with a 10% rebound in profits as revenue hit £112.7m.

The rise in net income to £28.9m was coupled with an 8% increase in profits per equity partner (PEP) to £348,000. The 2017/18 financial year was an improvement on last year’s modest 2% revenue growth, which resulted in an 11% drop in PEP to £322,000.

Managing partner James Miller pointed to good results for the firm’s insurance management consulting arm, which last year reported a loss of £2.6m after receiving substantial investment from the partnership.

Speaking to Legal Business, Miller said there had been some one-off costs associated with setting up RPC Consulting, launched in 2015, but he was ‘absolutely delighted with its performance’ and ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ it would generate profits in the year ahead.

He said the firm’s performance had been ‘uniform across all our main groups’, with its core litigation practice bringing in around 70% of the revenue. ‘If there is a significant insurance dispute the likelihood is we’ll be involved.’

The firm’s Asian business in Hong Kong and Singapore contributed about 15% of the revenue, with London and Bristol bringing in the rest.

Global headcount was flat at 360 lawyers and 83 equity partners compared to last year’s 355 and 82. The firm’s top of equity now sits at £1.2m and the bottom at £185,000, both up from £1m and £175,000 in 2016/17.

Miller struck a cautiously optimistic tone looking at the year ahead, saying the outcome of Brexit and the cost associated with complying with GDPR posed a challenge to every business.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Sponsored firm profile: RPC

Sponsored firm profile: RPC

A decade ago RPC hardly featured on the radar of hard-hitting City litigation firms. It is now one of the largest and most successful disputes firms in the City.

Tom Hibbert, global head of commercial disputes, concedes: ‘Seven to eight years ago were we an obvious choice for big-ticket commercial and financial litigation? Probably not.’ Hibbert, who joined the firm in 2009, has overseen a remarkable transformation, particularly on the commercial and banking disputes side of what is a wide-ranging disputes portfolio.

Legal Business

Sponsor message – RPC: Diversity on the agenda

Sponsor message – RPC: Diversity on the agenda

James Miller, RPC’s managing partner, highlights the common theme of diversity in this year’s GC Powerlist

The best teams are founded on diversity. And by diversity I mean diversity of thought, diversity of experience and diversity of leadership, as much as anything else.

If ever there was a time to reflect on the importance of diversity – in all its forms – in the era of #MeToo, #TimesUp and the gender pay gap, that time is now. Irrespective of whether studies show that greater diversity delivers greater performance – they do – ensuring we run balanced teams and organisations that offer equal access and equal opportunity is simply the right thing to do as human beings.

Legal Business

Who Represents Who: Firms that will be affected by the fall of Carillion

Who Represents Who: Firms that will be affected by the fall of Carillion

For more information on Who Represents Who, contact:
David Burgess,
Publishing Director, The Legal 500
legal500.com/wrw
david.burgess@legal500.com

Legal Business

RPC partners exclusively with University of Law ahead of SQE launch

RPC partners exclusively with University of Law ahead of SQE launch

Future RPC trainees will attend courses exclusively at the University of Law (ULaw) from September 2017, after the insurance firm switched to the training provider to prepare its professional courses in advance of the controversial new Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE).

From this September until 2020, trainees at the firm will be required to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Legal Practice Course (LPC) and an MSc in Law, Business and Management at the university’s Moorgate centre as sole provider, in a partnership RPC training principal Simon Hart described as the firm’s response to the ‘forthcoming radical reforms to legal education’, having previously worked with another group. 

ULaw and RPC will also partner to design a tailored new insurance law module, replacing its previous course, in response to changes introduced by the UK Insurance Act 2015. This will be introduced in the 2017/18 academic year.

‘A large part of our practice is in the insurance market. One of the core areas of our firm is insurance, so we want to make sure that all our lawyers have the correct training in that department.’

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced in April that a new single, centrally-set examination will come into use from September 2020, replacing the current requirements for trainee solicitors to take the LPC or for non-law graduates, the GDL, by combining both into one examination. The decision followed two consultation rounds during which City lawyers raised various concerns. The City of London Law Society objected to the multiple-choice nature of the assessment, which according to the lobby group lacks the ability to test the full nuance of law knowledge.

The SRA argued that the SQE will provide a ‘more reliable and rigorous test of competence than is possible at present’ and ensure all new solicitors are assessed to the same standard.

Hart told Legal Business: ‘ULaw has followed the SRA consultation process very closely and has worked with us and other City firms to give us an insight about what was going on and understand our concerns about it.’

The SQE is split into two parts: SQE stage one and stage two. The first stage will test a candidate’s ability to use and apply legal knowledge through six assessments, while the second will test legal skills through ten practical assessments.

‘My concern was about whether the stage one exam papers would be sufficient to ensure anybody who arrives in the office has the correct academic legal training. The SRA has gone a long way to giving commercial lawyers reassurance about that,’ said Hart.

He said ULaw was thinking forward on how it is going to reorganise its courses as a result of the new exam, adding: ‘The firm and the university will work together to understand the nature of those changes as they take shape over the next three years’.

Granted university status in November 2012, ULaw already provides study training for lawyers at Linklaters, DLA Piper, CMS, Ashurst, and Berwin Leighton Paisner and a paralegal apprenticeship scheme for Freshfields and Hogan Lovells.

RPC said recently that it will retain 82% of its trainees this autumn, a 15% increase from last year’s intake. Its global profits fell 8% over the year end 2016/17.

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk