News in brief

A round up of stories from the UK and around the world

Law Council president wary of govt bullishness
The legal profession must be vigilant to ensure that the fundamental rights of the justice system are not “dangerously undermined” by responses to the 11 September terrorist attacks, the new president of the Law Council of Australia has warned. Tony Abbot, chairman of Adelaide-based law firm Piper Alderman, was elected as president in October, taking over from Minter Ellison partner Anne Trimmer. Abbot called on colleagues to ensure that government actions conform with the rule of law. “Unjustified non-compliance diminishes its validity and legitimacy,” he stated. Nicole Maley
Victoria opens young people's law centre
Victorian attorney-general Rob Hulls launched the Young People's Legal Rights Centre in October, a collaboration between Blake Dawson Waldron, the Federation of Community Legal Centres and the North Melbourne Legal Service. The centre, the first of its type in Victoria, offers drop-in style advice clinics and community legal education programmes, as well as casework services to those aged 25 and under. Nicole Maley
Linklaters to ramp up US capability
Linklaters & Alliance's newly-appointed managing partner for the Americas Terence Kyle (left) is pressing ahead with plans to grow the US finance practice and the launch of a US law capability in Frankfurt (The Lawyer, 29 October). Kyle said: “My to-do list includes establishing a US law presence in Frankfurt, significantly increasing the size of our US practice in New York and broadening out the areas it covers on the finance side.” Linklaters has four partners in New York, three of them US-qualified. It also has US lawyers in Hong Kong, Paris, Rome, São Paulo and Tokyo. Julia Cahill
Freshfields eyes Citibank opportunity
A new development in the complex litigation in Brunei has sparked hopes at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer that the firm will get another crack at Citibank as a client (The Lawyer, 5 November). Freshfields lost Ciitbank two years ago when the firm – acting for the Brunei government and the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) – questioned the bank as part of its investigation into the misappropriation of funds in Brunei. The news that some 250 creditors were to accept offers of settlement has marked a watershed in the litigation. A source said: “If the ADC liquidation is resolved, it's an important step.” Prior to the Brunei job, Citibank was worth nearly £10m in fees to Freshfields and was one of the finance department's major standalone clients. Catrin Griffiths
Rajah & Tann takes on Lee & Lee senior partner
Singapore firm Rajah & Tann has recruited a new senior partner and is looking to replace its recently departed head of technology (The Lawyer, 5 November). The Weil Gotshal & Manges and Andersen Legal ally has recruited Goh Kian Hwee, the senior partner from Lovells' joint venture partner Lee & Lee. Rajah will also be joined by an as yet undisclosed recruit to fill the gap left by the departure of the firm's head of technology Daniel Seng. Until a replacement joins Rajah, three partners are heading the group jointly. Kathryn Hobbs
Slowdown prompts US firms to shed staff
A whole raft of US firms have been laying off staff (The Lawyer, 5 November). Shearman & Sterling is slashing 10 per cent of its US corporate lawyers as it battles with the M&A slowdown. Partners across the US have been asked to carry out thorough performance reviews among their associates and then lay off those who do not measure up. The biggest cuts will be in the 1,000-lawyer firm's New York office, although the Silicon Valley practice is also understood to be hit. Shearmans' move follows those of West Coast firms Venture Law Group, Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian and Perkins Coie, which have all shed associates. Claire Smith