Grapevine

Orrick jumps in Coudert’s Hong Kong grave

Despite hitting the self destruct button two months ago, the Coudert Brothers name will live on in Hong Kong for some time yet.

It would seem that if Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe wants to have a local law practice in Hong Kong, local authorities are going to force the firm to use the Coudert brand.

The firm has acquired the right to use the brand in China and has also gained approval from the Law Society of Hong Kong to register as a foreign firm. But it will probably have to practise as ‘Coudert Brothers associated with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’.

Orrick’s spin on the matter is that it is proud to be associated with Coudert and that it is intent on building on the reputation that Coudert created over the decades – Coudert certainly did have a good Chinese practice. But despite paying a small fortune for Coudert’s practice, name, office and kitchen sink, Orrick is facing the prospect of practising for several years as an associated part of an extinct firm.

Heaps moves to London to shout about Eversheds

It’s all change at Eversheds, with it shifting litigation head John Heaps down south in an effort to build the profile of its dispute management group.

Until now, Heaps led the contentious team from Leeds, while Tim Maloney managed the litigation team in London. The change of guard in the capital coincides with a push to develop Eversheds’ litigation expertise and reputation. The firm has a massive 350 lawyers resolving disputes and what it believes is an innovative programme of ‘early case assessment’, which was developed by Heaps.

Heaps is bullish, with the regulatory practice particularly successful at the moment after recording a 39 per cent year-on-year growth. But the practice is less well-known than Heaps thinks it ought to be. He believes he will be better able to manage the practice, both nationally and internationally, from London. At the very least, he’ll be able to shout its reputation to a wider audience.

Commission criticises prejudicial judiciary

The Commission for Judicial Appointments’ (CJA) criticism that too many judges are male, Oxbridge-educated and barristers, was a welcome admission.

The censure in last week’s CJA annual report prompted a row between Lord Falconer, the Cambridge-educated Lord Chancellor, and the commission. Lord Falconer claimed that education played no part in the appointment of judges.

He could be right. The problem starts further back. The latest batch of tenants in the ‘magic circle’ of barristers’ sets all went to Oxford or Cambridge. Competition for places in law firms and in chambers is increasingly fierce. We’re told by recruitment officers and PR advisers that only the best candidates will succeed, but there is still a perception that those candidates will come from Oxford or Cambridge. Until more young lawyers from other backgrounds get to the top of the profession, greater diversity in the judiciary will be hard to come by.