Web week

The Lawyer‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@thelawyer.com.

China white
Web week found its first English language Chinese blawg last week (blawg.lehman law.com), written by the staff at leading Chinese firm Lehman Lee & Xu.

It seemed slightly out of date to English eyes until Thursday (8 February), when the heavens opened over London. It features an e-card wishing us happy holidays with a number of Lehman lawyers basking beneath a blizzard of snowflakes.

The latest post reveals a poetic side: “I am always intrigued by those legal practitioners that do not want to know about certain matters, under the poor argument that it’s not in their field. Law firms that support the idea of education as a ‘worthwhile end in itself’ are the breeding grounds of the best lawyers.

“Voltaire had already said it in such an enlightening way: ‘Il faut cultiver son jardin.’ (We must cultivate our garden).”

All is not rosy with Sullivan camp
The most popular story on www.thelawyer.com this week was the unusual case of Sullivan & Cromwell suing its own associate: “The discrimination suit filed by a Sullivan & Cromwell associate against his firm took an unusual turn on 1 February when the Manhattan stalwart filed its own papers against Aaron Charney, the M&A lawyer at the centre of the scandal.

“Sullivan claims that Charney broke his attorney-client privilege, bringing the 125-year-old firm into disrepute when he published his grievances on a website, greedyassociates.com, before officially bringing them to firm management.

“For his part, Charney filed his own complaint at the Supreme Court on 16 January, charging discrimination by several Sullivan partners when they found out he was gay.”

www.abovethelaw.com has been all over this. Its analysis of the complaint prompted a flurry of responses: “1. This lawsuit seems like an example of the time-honored countersuit strategy: ‘The best defence is a good offense.’ Sue the other guy, hoping you can settle both cases with a mutual release of claims: he drops his case, you drop yours, and everyone goes home happy (well, not happy; but everyone goes home).”2. Maybe our expectations were too high, or maybe we were hoping for more salacious material. But truth be told, we were a little underwhelmed by the S&C complaint.”

Back bone of contention
Most amusing were Denton Wilde Sapte’s (DWS) attempts to scupper the story of another partner departure.

Lawyer News Daily wasn’t having a bone of it: “Here’s a mild warning for firms not to spin any departures.

“Yesterday we reported that Lovells was taking a DWS team led by Rahail Ali for its nascent Dubai office. Then rumours started flying about concerning a possible buy-back of the team by DWS.

“Except those rumours were… shall we say misplaced?”It’s not surprising that DWS wanted to keep them. The team is prominent in Islamic finance, one of the most important new growth areas for law firms.

“Anyway, there was much indignation on the part of the exiting team. As Ali told us firmly today: ‘I’ve made it clear that I’ll be joining Lovells. Any reports to the contrary seem to be based on a misunderstanding of my leaving discussions.’

“That’s telling them.”

Law? Yeah but no but yeah
And finally, on 8 February the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opened an official debate on the ‘character and suitability’ of lawyers.

“What sort of people should be allowed to enter the solicitors’ profession? Its new independent regulator, the SRA, wants to know what you think.

“The Solicitors Act 1974 and various regulations oblige the SRA to ensure that people are of the character and suitability to be a solicitor – but there is no definition of ‘character and suitability’.

“The SRA now wants all its stakeholders to say whether the guidelines can be improved, and has launched a consultation at www.sra.org.uk.”

We can’t go letting any old Vicky Pollard enter the profession. Who gets in? As Big Brother would say, you decide.