Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise

Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise

So, after a six-month hiatus we have returned and much has changed. Writing this as we enter a second national lockdown in the UK seems surreal but we hope that this issue finds you in a robust mood, ready to do business for your clients and able to challenge the hysteria peddled by the mainstream media as much as possible.

As Covid-19 took hold, every business changed irreversibly and Legal Business was no exception. Over the Spring and Summer months, a number of highly respected and much-loved colleagues moved on, including editor-in-chief since 2013 Alex Novarese, who has embarked upon the next stage of his career. I would like to personally thank Alex not only for his outstanding achievements with this title over the past seven plus years but also for being an amazing mentor and friend. Continue reading “Legal Business returns to anything but normal – new or otherwise”

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”

The Legal 500 View: Ranking the top firms in the new normal

The Legal 500 View: Ranking the top firms in the new normal

Legal 500 UK editor Georgina Stanley on the headline data and what’s new in this year’s guide

With thousands of distinct rankings for both law firms and individual lawyers, The Legal 500 UK Solicitors Guide 2021 is now live on legal500.com, despite the global pandemic meaning the entire thing was researched and edited remotely. Continue reading “The Legal 500 View: Ranking the top firms in the new normal”

Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch

Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch

General counsel and other senior in-house lawyers should not be afraid to show their human side when leading their teams through crises and seeking to deliver on business objectives, prominent figures in the legal market have agreed.

There was consensus on the issue among panellists participating in an online event jointly hosted by Legal Business and Pinsent Masons as part of the GC Powerlist UK 2020, as they reflected on the challenges they and their in-house teams have faced during the coronavirus crisis. Continue reading “Guest post: Leadership in law in crises requires a human touch”

Guest comment: Corporate values mean nothing without cost – City law’s moment has come to champion diversity

Guest comment: Corporate values mean nothing without cost – City law’s moment has come to champion diversity

An institution’s values and commitment to inclusion are only real when tested. It is in challenging times that we decide whether we embrace those values and these are the defining moments that ultimately prove their worth. Amid a global pandemic, political upheavals, the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent movement that has flowed from his death, the profession’s actions will show if our values are either luxury items to be paraded when convenient or the rock on which we build our business.

It is precisely now beset by challenges that we need to put inclusion at the heart of our decisions. Leading law firms have often waxed lyrical about commitments to diversity; now is the moment to step up if we truly believe inclusion is a core value and an economic imperative. Continue reading “Guest comment: Corporate values mean nothing without cost – City law’s moment has come to champion diversity”

‘Making Freshfields an American brand’ – Inside the Silicon Valley launch handing the City giant a rare opportunity

‘Making Freshfields an American brand’ – Inside the Silicon Valley launch handing the City giant a rare opportunity

Roughly 30 seconds into conversation with Boris Feldman it becomes apparent why the charismatic litigator is regarded as a local legend in California’s legal community. Spitting out colourful quotes with the confidence that comes from having acted for pretty much every Bay Area brand name going, the bow-tied Feldman has nonetheless chosen an odd time in his lengthy career to change firm, let alone quit a local bellwether like Wilson Sonsini for the uncertain embrace of London’s oldest elite law firm.

But then Feldman’s move alongside four other senior lawyers to set up a Silicon Valley arm for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer speaks to two key issues of huge strategic importance for the storied London firm. The first point is that for the first time in its 43-year history in the US, Freshfields is attracting the kind of star power widely accepted as a prerequisite of success stateside. The second point is directly related: the acquisition of said talent has dramatically changed perceptions of the London firm in the US in just eight months after years of mixed opportunities and bad PR. Continue reading “‘Making Freshfields an American brand’ – Inside the Silicon Valley launch handing the City giant a rare opportunity”

‘Let’s tear up the rule book’ – Boies chief sets out her stall for a radical rethink of the elite law firm model

‘Let’s tear up the rule book’ – Boies chief sets out her stall for a radical rethink of the elite law firm model

If law firms are to survive and thrive, they must dramatically modernise the way they work and serve their clients; they must become more adaptable, flexible and collaborative if they are to prosper. While clients have accelerated and evolved in their respective sectors, the legal industry itself has failed – at best to keep pace – at worst to change in any meaningful way. Either way, law firms remain significantly and meaningfully behind the curve.

Covid-19 may be the disruptor the legal industry has long needed, sparking change and generating the long-awaited revolution. If so, how will these changes manifest? And how do we create the blueprint for the modern law firm? Continue reading “‘Let’s tear up the rule book’ – Boies chief sets out her stall for a radical rethink of the elite law firm model”

Comment: Are stressed junior lawyers being struck off too easily? It’s time for watchdogs to consider a more flexible approach

Comment: Are stressed junior lawyers being struck off too easily? It’s time for watchdogs to consider a more flexible approach

In my line of work you’re supposed to pretend ideas come out of nowhere but this column was triggered by a well-argued piece by my former parish noting the contrast between senior lawyers let off with fines for regulatory breaches while juniors are routinely struck off. The question in a nutshell is why juniors are banned while senior hands like Gary Senior at Baker McKenzie and Ryan Beckwith at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer were been fined for failings linked to sexual advances to staff. Senior was in June handed a £55,000 fine, reopening the debate but the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society had the previous month already publicly proclaimed its loss of confidence in the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) following its prosecution of rookie lawyers with apparent mental health issues.

This debate has been much rehearsed in the last two years given cases such as Capsticks’ recently-qualified solicitor Claire Matthews, who was struck off after lying to conceal the accidental loss of client documents. Other notable cases have seen junior solicitors Emily Scott and Sovani James banned despite arguing for mitigation of toxic work cultures and high pressure. Continue reading “Comment: Are stressed junior lawyers being struck off too easily? It’s time for watchdogs to consider a more flexible approach”