Grapevine

Postcode lottery
Forget banking and corporate for a moment, Allen & Overy (A&O) has another tricky decision to make concerning its new Spitalfields office. After raising the considerable ire of the locals, construction is now ploughing ahead.

A&O is now weighing up whether it wants the postcode of its new office to be the more traditional EC2 or the distinctly un-City-sounding E1.

Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN Amro also occupy the site. They have EC2M and EC2N postcodes respectively. However, while all are on the same site, the banks’ entrances are situated on or towards Bishopsgate. A&O, on the other hand, is way back on the site, nearer Brushfield Street, E1.

A couple of years ago, A&O struck up a ‘social compact’ agreement with Tower Hamlets Council, meaning it would extend its pro bono offering to local schools and provide job and training opportunities for the local community.

So either A&O plumps for EC2 and risks upsetting the locals or goes the E1 route and raises a few eyebrows among its clients. Let’s just take a guess, shall we?

Luddite plight
Those lawyers who go pale at the thought of programming videos should have been at the Law Society last Thursday.

The cream of the legal IT supplier market was showcasing the latest bells and whistles that are supposed to make a lawyer’s life easier. The presentations at the bash, which was hosted by in-house software provider Ascertus, were smoother than a BlackBerry case, although the discussions on taxonomies, eBilling and Matter Centric Collaboration left a few lawyers enquiring about the time of lunch.

The doubters – such as the chap who questioned the need for an electronic invoicing system because “surely Excel would do” – were outnumbered, however. With Microsoft about to impose a ‘no paper invoices’ diktat from next year, and an eBilling standard recently adopted in the UK, technology for in-house lawyers is back on the agenda. Time to start buying up those anoraks.

Client hunt
Ian Nisse’s departure for Shearman & Sterling has led to the inevitable scramble for his clients at Ashurst. Nisse left Ashurst to set up a real estate practice at the US firm’s London office, so with no existing book of business to run with, his old clients have become even more highly prized.

Shearman already claims to have won most of Stanhope’s work away from Nisse’s former firm. The US firm is understood to be acting for the company on its involvement with the Croydon Gateway development and, more notably, it is also said to be advising Stanhope on its bid for the Wood Wharf redevelopment.

Although Ashurst advised Stanhope on the first stage of its bid, Shearman appears quietly confident that it will be instructed if the company’s bid was successful. Given that the project could run for more than 10 years, the legal fees involved would be huge.
With founder Elliot Bernard set to leave, Chelsfield will inevitably become another target.

Elsewhere, Linklaters’ real estate group is also likely to come into Shearman’s sights after Nisse’s hire of Linklaters real estate managing associate Alan Gutteridge, who has worked for both Deutsche Bank and the BBC. Nice work.

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