The work from home dilemma – get creative

The work from home dilemma – get creative

If 2020 was about surviving coronavirus and lockdown, 2021 is most certainly about rebuilding and making up for lost time. With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout progressing well, and pubs and shops reopening ahead of a supposed return to normality by late June, going back to the office is becoming a reality.

As The Legal 500 UK editor Georgina Stanley points out in ‘Living at work’, the past year has seen the stigma that working from home is less productive than long office hours eradicated, but we have also lost the benefits of spontaneous social interaction with clients and colleagues and the ease of separation between work and home life. As for the younger generation of lawyers, they are suffering from a lack of face time with clients and partners, losing out on crucial training and development. Continue reading “The work from home dilemma – get creative”

Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none

Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none

The whimpering conclusion to the three-year saga that dragged City law into the middle of #MeToo could hardly have been more frustrating for everyone concerned.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) announced in January that it had decided to stay proceedings against Allen & Overy employment veteran Mark Mansell (aka Solicitor Z) relating to a non-disclosure agreement drawn up for disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 1998. The grounds for the decision were that Mansell’s ill health meant that continuing with a trial posed a significant risk to his life. Continue reading “Depressing end to Weinstein gagging order narrative means closure for none”

Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator

Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator

The High Court ruling in November that overturned the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT)’s finding against ex-Freshfields partner Ryan Beckwith has sent shockwaves reverberating around the profession.

In the unlikely event that the substance of the ruling has escaped anyone, the Queen’s Bench Division’s judgment reversed the SDT’s October 2019 findings that Beckwith’s drunken sexual activity with an intoxicated associate breached Principles 2 and 6 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)’s code of conduct, reversed his £35,000 fine and quashed the £200,000 costs order. Continue reading “Failings in Beckwith prosecution undermine #MeToo fight and muzzle regulator”

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”

Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star

Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star

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 “Comment: Remembering Mr Disruption – How Clayton Christensen became the legal industry’s North Star”

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”

Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Ask senior figures in the profession what has materially changed in the legal industry over the last decade and answers will likely include musings on technology, innovation and, for more pragmatic souls, the growth of American law firms in Europe.

Such woolly answers speak to the reality that the law looks much like it did ten years ago. What will not be mentioned, however, is what is rapidly emerging as a force with the potential to profoundly reshape the industry: the dawn of proactive regulation of major law firms. Continue reading “Comment: #MeToo is law’s Libor-rigging moment – Unheralded comes regulation of City law”

Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Unheralded comes regulation of City law

Ask senior figures in the profession what has materially changed in the legal industry over the last decade and answers will likely include musings on technology, innovation and, for more pragmatic souls, the growth of American law firms in Europe.

Such woolly answers speak to the reality that the law looks much like it did ten years ago. What will not be mentioned, however, is what is rapidly emerging as a force with the potential to profoundly reshape the industry: the dawn of proactive regulation of major law firms. Continue reading “Unheralded comes regulation of City law”

New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through

New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through

For more than a decade now technology and innovation jargon has been pushing its way inelegantly into the legal sphere. But with what result? Certainly, it has led to industrial levels of hype as cloying Silicon Valley-speak took hold in even the most inhospitable arenas. But more to the point for the development of the industry is the endemic confusion it has sown. Without re-treading this month’s cover feature on the substance of law firms’ New Law divisions, it is clear that the industry struggles enormously to articulate these services, both at conventional law firms and pure-play providers.

This explains the widespread confusion in the minds of general counsel about what is on offer and how it differs from Old Law. ‘Platforms’, ‘solutions’, ‘suites’ and an avalanche of weird brand names are present, but as to explaining the products on offer, it is just not cutting through. Continue reading “New Law needs a new dictionary to get that promised break through”

The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze

The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze

It is a measure of how fast-moving the Brexit-dominated landscape now is that imagery in this year’s Legal Business 100 (LB100) is dominated by Conrad, Castro and Coppola as the summer months have moved to rapidly challenge notions of how Britain works. One of the most stable and predictable major economies in the world has been locked into a mounting political conflict more akin to a banana republic than the Mother of Parliaments. Sooner or later Westminster drama on this scale will spill into a real economy that already contracted in the second quarter.

And yet, the UK’s largest law firms have endured another 12 months of uncertainty and ominous haze with impressive resilience, pushing revenues up 9% to £26.35bn, one of the better years of all-round performance since the banking crisis. And though a handful of mergers flatter that headline figure, 28 firms managed double-digit revenue growth, showing that plenty of UK firms are thriving in these challenging conditions. Continue reading “The LB100 Comment: UK legal elite shows resilience amid the ominous haze”