Grapevine

Restructured Nabarros division is hardly hot property
Slow and steady as she goes has always been the Nabarro Nathanson philosophy, but could its big-hitting property department be about to rock the boat?
It is not likely to be a revolution, but the property group is looking at a complete restructure aimed at making the firm less reliant on its biggest client, Land Securities, which provides about a quarter of its annual turnover.

The current structure is confusing to say the least. There are three internal divisions, or ‘J Groups’, including one understood to deal exclusively with Land Securities.

There are also a number of sub-groups in specialist areas such as planning and property funds. Then there’s the Sheffield office, which almost exclusively deals with the less profitable lease management work. There’s no central leadership, and the task of managing this disparate bunch has fallen to one of the three commercial property department senior partners, Deborah Parry.

Streamlining the department is not a bad aim, but as one insider confided to The Lawyer: “When you have 30-odd partners, you have 30-odd different views and opinions. I’ve no idea if poor old Deborah will ever be able to get any agreement.”

B&M pair track partnership prospects elsewhere
Is Baker & McKenzie the next in line for a mass exodus of associates because of a bottleneck in its partnership track? The firm’s London office lost two associates to the promise of partnership elsewhere in a matter of days.

First, private client associate Rupert Ticehurst decided to jump ship in favour of joining Herbert Smith’s trusts and charities practice as a partner. Next, tax associate Ian Fraser fled to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, where he joins as a partner in the tax group.

Baker & McKenzie has been somewhat reluctant to comment on the losses, or on speculation that it might spark a wave of losses of Herbert Smith proportions.

On the flipside, Ticehurst’s hire and promotion to partnership must be unsettling for the associates in Herbert Smith’s litigation practice.

At least 50 associates have fled the group globally in the past 12 months, citing low pay, long hours and a partnership track mired with problems. Apparently this isn’t the case for lateral hires.

New silk applications spin the same old pattern
The QC Appointments Secretariat has finally released a breakdown of the people who applied for silk in the first round of the revamped process. And surprise surprise, most of the potential QCs are white male barristers. Almost nothing has changed since the last appointments, despite the new system being designed to offer more opportunities to solicitors, women and ethnic minorities.

Of the 443 applications received, just 12 came from solicitors. There were 66 female applicants, or 15 per cent of the total, up from 39, or 10 per cent, last time around. Just 21 applicants described themselves as “non-white”, down from 23 in 2003.

More time is needed to see change coming through. Solicitors and barristers are concerned that the process is too rigorous and time-consuming to encourage people to apply. Ultimately, that is a far more serious problem.

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