Grapevine

Baker light

Baker & McKenzie (B&M) has had a difficult two weeks in Germany, with two teams leaving for Milbank and Skadden – not that either team knew about the other’s departure at the time. Milbank has certainly made eye-catching moves in landing Rainer Magold, the godfather of German acquisition finance, who has close ties with HVB and Dresdner, and Christina Ungeheuer, whose sponsor-led practice will dovetail beautifully with Milbank’s brand new private equity team in Munich. With just one set of hires, Milbank has bought itself immediate credibility, although it has a way to go before it can catch Clifford Chance for European depth of resource.

Meanwhile, it was about time that Skadden recruited some senior names; the US firm has been all but invisible since it opened more than a decade ago, and it could do with the B&M heavy-hitters. However, German observers are scratching their heads at the composition of Skadden’s new team. Let’s hope that previous tensions within that group don’t resurface at their new home.
And B&M? Don’t write off the firm in Germany – there are plenty of younger stars coming through – and the departures will only spur them on.

Health equals wealth

The fruits of the Department of Health’s review of 40 arm’s-length bodies (or quangos, as they used to be known) are starting to appear – and it’s got law firms salivating.

To the uninitiated, we’re talking about organisations such as the NHS Purchasing and Supplies Agency (PASA), the NHS Litigation Authority, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) and the National Clinical Assessment Authority (NCAA). Many of these sprung up in the wake of public sector failings such as Harold Shipman or Alder Hey, and the Government has decided that there’s probably too many of them. Change creates work for lawyers and, crucially, work for lawyers in this sector goes out to tender.

The NCAA is merging with the NPSA (both have preferred firms, so the new body will retender). PASA is devolving much of its procurement to collaborative procurement hubs, which are collections of NHS trusts sorted by region. Eversheds and Hempsons have already benefited from a trial hub in North and East Yorkshire. Health sector lawyers find it as difficult as the rest of us to unravel the labyrinth that is the NHS. Only the most observant will be winners.

Wigs, camera, action!

Martin Wilson QC last week made his screen debut and legal history as the first man to be filmed in a court pilot. The 7 Bedford Row silk starred as lead counsel for the CPS in the Court of Appeal’s first televised case, where the former leader of Lincolnshire County Council was appealing against his conviction for misconduct in public office.

Wilson, Grapevine is pleased to report, is no prima donna more concerned with artistic credibility than the substance of his cross-examination. He seems to have remained remarkably unfazed by the experience, but should the pilot be repeated, you can’t imagine being able to say the same about all those wannabe George Carmans out there.

The lawyers might be the stars of the show, but just how would you make Gordon Pollock QC’s 79-day opening statement in BCCI palatable to your average couch potato?