11 October 2004
A marriage made in the public sector
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you’re a legal journalist. Certainly if you’re a local government lawyer, you’re expected to dish out something in return for all that friendly free advice, training and access to information that some firms are willing to offer in a partnering arrangement.
The idea is simple: the local authority builds a relationship with a firm; the firm gets to understand the business better; then it picks up some work. Except that as The Lawyer’s public sector survey on page 20 reveals, this isn’t happening a whole lot. Many local authorities surveyed were wary of firms’ motives, while others found it hard to see the benefit.
There may, though, be a glimmer of hope for the Eversheds, Nabarro Nathansons and Trowers & Hamlins of this world. Some smaller authorities are looking at working collaboratively, banding together to pool resources. You never know, it may lead to a commensurate rise in demand for external legal input. But don’t hold your breath.
Get your kicks for free
The growth of international arbitration continues apace and everyone wants a piece of the action. With Paris and London the recognised European leaders, rival jurisdictions have been trying hard to get in on the act.
Of course, the simplest way is to appeal to a client’s miserliness. Why take three arbitrators into the shower when one will do? An arbitrator who can manage their own secretarial duties also offers significant savings – Gleiss Lutz partner Stephan Wilske gleefully informs us that Swiss administrative secretaries can cost up to £150 an hour.
Multilingualism is also an advantage, when translation of documents in a dispute can cost more than £100,000. But the German Arbitration Institute in Cologne is one step ahead of the pack with its latest incentive: free facilities are available for those happy to resolve their dispute in Germany.
They must have been talking to those chaps at Blake Lapthorn Linnell. The firm was delighted to announce last week that it had secured the Property Managers Association as a new client. Good work, but how? we asked. By providing advice on a pro bono basis, said the client. Bingo.
Theatre of dreams
Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the Lovells partner dining room now that the managing partner shortlist is out. The publication of the trio of candidates – competition head John Pheasant, finance head David Harris and commercial head Andrew Skipper – has inspired a bout of political manoeuvring that verges on the Jacobean.
Skipper will have the anti-establishment vote sewn up in much the same way that senior partner John Young did last year and that prospect is scaring a lot of the big beasts in London. So much so that some insiders are speculating darkly that the Pheasant-Harris vote will get split. “God help us if Skipper gets in,” said one partner glumly last week. We suggest that Harris and Pheasant start thinking about a Granita-style electoral pact, and sharpish.
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