Grapevine

Law Society’s TFR leaves law students cold

Surely it is time for the Law Society to abandon its much-maligned consultation on the Training Framework Review. Derided from the start by education providers, law firms, local law societies and even many of the individuals who produced the document in the first place, it has now exercised the brains of traditionally the most apathetic group in the world: law students.

The College of Law last week carried out an online poll of its 3,000 students, receiving in excess of 1,000 replies. And in exam time to boot. The overwhelming view of those respondents is that the existing proposals represent a significant threat to standards, which would serve to devalue the entire profession.

College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage speaks for many when he says: “The sooner the process is closed down the better. My view is that the level of hostility [towards the proposals] is beginning to damage the brand of solicitor and that of the Law Society. But at least the next generation of lawyers are concerned about standards.”

Ketchup gaffe stains B&M’s reputation

Baker & McKenzie (B&M) last week gave the legal market an object lesson in how not to handle a potential stain on a firm’s character. By now few can have escaped news of Richard Phillips, the B&M senior associate who asked a secretary for £4 for the cost of dry cleaning his tomato ketchup-soiled trousers. The secretary, Jenny Amner, kicked off the biggest witchhunt since Norton Rose‘s Bradley Chait by slating him on an email and copying in everyone she knew. Within hours the message had spread around the world.

By last Friday (17 June) rumours had started to reach The Lawyer that Phillips had resigned after blanket media coverage. That was unconfirmed at press time, but the coverage could have been entirely avoided if B&M had taken the initiative and handled it properly. An apology, a bunch of flowers, a short holiday… and all would have been forgotten. Now it is chain email history. If B&M has accepted Phillips’ resignation, if indeed it was offered because of this pants row, it should be ashamed of itself.

Coudert’s lawyers: could’ve, would’ve, should’ve

In the annals of great decisions of our time, the choice to move to Coudert Brothers has got to rank somewhere between IBM’s decision to offload its software arm and Decca’s Derek Rowe turning down The Beatles.

Former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Stephen Bennett and Surasak Vajasit must be kicking themselves after opting for Coudert over DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, when Coudert won out in a bidding war for the team last year. And one has to feel for Denton Wilde Sapte’s (DWS) Singapore partners, who walked straight from the frying pan and into the everlasting flames of Coudert after DWS axed its Asian operation.

Even Coudert’s ditched German partners are ruing the day they said “no thanks” to… wait for it… Pinsents, and were lured instead by the enigmatic charms of Coudert.

As a small crumb of comfort to those who have gone the Coudert way, let us just remember Clifford Chance‘s decision to take on Tower Snow and his merry band of Brobeck lawyers to build a West Coast practice. Nuff said.