College of Law beats rival Nottingham in race to win advocacy training work

The College of Law has fought off competition from Nottingham Law School and landed advocacy training work with two magic circle firms, worth a purported £50,000.

Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith joined forces in the competitive tendering process to increase their bargaining power with the institution. The College of Law’s London branch will provide training for litigators hoping to take advantage of the Higher Courts Qualification Regulation, which came into force in October. The regulations require that advocates should be tested before they appear in the Higher Courts.

The deal coincides with the Law Society’s upgrade of the London branch from “good” to “very good” for course quality.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer did not enter into a bid process with the College because it already has a strong existing relationship with Nottingham Law School. Linklaters & Alliance was originally part of the Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith consortium, but decided to pull out. Linklaters litigation partner Mark Humphries says: “Being in a consortium would have given us less flexibility. We wanted [the training] to define Linklaters and suit our individual opinion of advocacy and specialist training.”

Linklaters is currently considering how to gather together all of its litigation departments into one management structure.

It has chosen Nottingham Law School partly because of a training agreement, under which 150 of its legal practice course students receive additional business and management coaching.

It is believed that Herbert Smith and Clifford Chance linked up together to ensure that fewer people were out of the office at any one time. By joining forces, the two firms are able to fill classes without sending all of their litigators out of the office at the same time.

David Jabbari, director of professional development at the College, says: “We won the work from Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith because of the strong tutors and commercially-driven focus, but like Freshfields, Linklaters had a strong existing relationship with the Nottingham Law School. We feel we won on paper because of the quality of our offering.”

Head of litigation training at Clifford Chance Simon James says: “We’ve come to a tentative agreement with the College of Law as part of a joint exercise between Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith.”

A more commercially focused approach has become the main ethos of the College since the appointment six months ago of Jabbari. He joined from top intellectual property and technology law firm Bird & Bird.

Nottingham Law School was unavailable for comment.