Dissent: Platitudes and a missed debate – how GCs are pushed off their ethical course

Dissent: Platitudes and a missed debate – how GCs are pushed off their ethical course

It’s stated so often but never questioned: everywhere you turn, in-house lawyers pay tribute to the holy grail of ‘being commercial’. But, as I will argue, such an approach raises substantive and troubling questions regarding the influence on the ethical compass that is supposed to be an in-house lawyer’s most important tool.

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Dissent: Platitudes and a missed debate – how GCs are pushed off their ethical course

Dissent: Platitudes and a missed debate – how GCs are pushed off their ethical course

Paul Gilbert argues that lazy thinking and perverse incentives are dulling the ethical and intellectual edge of in-house counsel

It’s stated so often but never questioned: everywhere you turn, in-house lawyers pay tribute to the holy grail of ‘being commercial’. But, as I will argue, such an approach raises substantive and troubling questions regarding the influence on the ethical compass that is supposed to be an in-house lawyer’s most important tool.

Continue reading “Dissent: Platitudes and a missed debate – how GCs are pushed off their ethical course”

DISSENT: A self-deceiving return to business as usual

DISSENT: A self-deceiving return to business as usual

RSG’s Reena SenGupta argues an improving economic climate is leading top law firms to wrongly assume the ‘new’ normal is the same as the old one

In 2010, Georgetown University, under the direction of Professor Milton Regan, held a conference of academics, practitioners and leading thinkers on the profession. To delegates, the atmosphere was heady; change was palpable in the room.

There were no dissenting voices. People knew that there was no turning back for the legal profession. Legal services would be unbundled, equity structures in law firms would change, clients would exert their buying power and demand radically different fee arrangements, Chinese law firms would stride onto the global stage and new technologies and service providers would fundamentally alter the law firm business model. It was going to be, as the title of the conference predicted, a brave new world.

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DISSENT: A precarious professionalism

DISSENT: A precarious professionalism

UCL’s Richard Moorhead argues the integrity and professionalism that City lawyers take for granted is all too easily swayed

The practice of law has flipped from vocation to business. Law firms and individual lawyers are measured explicitly in predominantly economic terms. Profit per equity partner (PEP) and other indicators trickle down firms through targets and bonuses. Hourly rates are the oil that greases this engine. Alongside that is the somewhat servile claim that lawyers are not deal breakers or pettifoggers, but business-focused advisers, and business-focused advisers for whom the client comes first.

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DISSENT: The road to equity – a difficult journey, an uncertain destination

DISSENT: The road to equity – a difficult journey, an uncertain destination

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s James Tsolakis argues the profession must accept a fundamental challenge to its traditional model

The legal profession is going through a period of dramatic and profound change, and the forces driving these changes are having far-reaching consequences on the industry. The roles and responsibilities of the equity partner are not immune from these forces, and are evolving and expanding in response. For many this is creating great ambiguity, while others are seizing the opportunity.

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DISSENT: Where do you want your firm to be in 2020?

DISSENT: Where do you want your firm to be in 2020?

Adam Smith, Esq’s Bruce MacEwen argues that short-termism and a lack of stewardship has come to define the modern law firm

To judge from the way law firms behave – it’s helpfully instructive to ignore what they say – the answer to the rhetorical question of the above headline is: ‘Who gives a fig?’

Consider the following facts and ask yourself what philosophy of management underlies and ties all law firms together:

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Comment: The battle for talent and other phoney wars

Comment: The battle for talent and other phoney wars

Since McKinsey & Co first coined the term in 1997, the ‘war for talent’ has been the focus of a stream of conferences, media articles and consulting assignments. It has spawned a new human resources specialism – talent management – and with that has come concepts such as ‘competency frameworks’ and ‘succession planning’.

One of the most hotly fought fronts in the war for talent is graduate recruitment. Professional service firms, including law firms, accountancy practices, banks and consultancies, pride themselves on battling with other firms, competing aggressively for a very limited number of ‘the brightest and the best’ graduates. Continue reading “Comment: The battle for talent and other phoney wars”

DISSENT: The battle for talent and other phoney wars

DISSENT: The battle for talent and other phoney wars

A false ‘war for talent’ has seen law firms create their own staff shortages, argue Laura Empson and Louise Ashley.

Since McKinsey & Co first coined the term in 1997, the ‘war for talent’ has been the focus of a stream of conferences, media articles and consulting assignments. It has spawned a new human resources specialism – talent management – and with that has come concepts such as ‘competency frameworks’ and ‘succession planning’.

One of the most hotly fought fronts in the war for talent is graduate recruitment. Professional service firms, including law firms, accountancy practices, banks and consultancies, pride themselves on battling with other firms, competing aggressively for a very limited number of ‘the brightest and the best’ graduates. As one banker told us: ‘All the banks are in competition, gunning for that small pool of talent.’ Continue reading “DISSENT: The battle for talent and other phoney wars”

Dissent: Why the in-house triumph over law firms may prove short-lived

Dissent: Why the in-house triumph over law firms may prove short-lived

Scott Gibson and Kristi Edwards argue that GCs have secured a short-term advantage over their external advisers at the risk of undermining their own position

In the decade prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, an excess of work masked the corrosive effect to law firms from competition with increasingly sophisticated and growing in-house legal departments (C&I teams). Post-Lehman, the economic downturn has exposed significant structural challenges to overstaffed law firms, which have been ruthlessly exploited by C&I to decisively shift the balance of power in favour of clients.

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