Catrin Griffiths

Floating your boat

21-May-2015 | By Catrin Griffiths

Everyone thought Irwin Mitchell would be doing it soon, but it looks as if Gateley will beat the national firm to the punch. Gateley is actively preparing an IPO. It’s notable not least because Gateley – unlike Irwin Mitchell and Slater & Gordon, the Aussie-listed company that took over RJW three years ago – is not a personal injury outfit. Will Gateley genuinely be the pathfinder for commercial law firms?

The magic circle’s fairy dust


The magic circle is often seen as a homogenous group of firms, but our analysis of their global investments throws up considerable differences. A&O and Clifford Chance have opened a series of offices, Linklaters has preferred alliances and Freshfields has barely extended its reach in a decade. It’s no longer one size fits all.

Gove at the helm


Michael Gove is a controversial but heavyweight politician. David Cameron’s decision to put him in charge of the Ministry of Justice shows that he needs a big beast in order to weather the storms over the potential scrapping of the Human Rights Act. Will Gove be a bogeyman for lawyers as much as he is for teachers?

Merger drop


Mergers have been a staple of the legal landscape over the past few years as the market continues to consolidate. Nevertheless, the rate of combinations has declined in the last six months. In our analysis, we ask whether there has been a return on partner investment.

KWM’s property push


When SJ Berwin agreed to combine with - or be taken over by KWM, it became a target for headhunters. Many corporate departures later, the firm is hiring aggressively in real estate, taking a number of partners from Eversheds. Will there be more to come?

Russian rule


Russia is becoming increasingly problematic for Western firms. Despite the fact that English law is popular, the imposition of sanctions on the country is having a clear effect on business activity. UK and US practices are quietly downsizing, while local firms are consolidating – and beginning to hire English-qualified lawyers.

Pastures new at Freshfields


The senior partner race at Freshfields will be fascinating to watch. The magic circle firm is widely recognised to be the only UK outfit to have built a credible top-level US presence, but with increasing competition among the global elite, the new senior partner will need to be an effective ambassador.

Upwards trajectory


Spring brings welcome news for some. Across the UK, it’s partner promotion season. National firms are adding plenty to their partnerships, but magic circle firms are being more circumspect. At Freshfields, for example, only three made the grade in London out of 17 worldwide

The legal reaction to the Budget


The Lawyer’s Briefings section hosts thousands of papers from law firms on the latest legal developments, all free to download. Last week many of them responded to the Budget. Here’s a selection, ranging from digital currencies to oil and gas. For more, sign up to our weekly Briefings email

Competing for time


April 2014 marked the beginning of a new era for UK’s competition lawyers, with the establishment of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). And the CMA is already having an effect, say private practice lawyers, who claim that recent changes have slowed the merger process. For more insight into the way the CMA is changing the legal landscape, see our articles below

The recruitment wrangle


The SRA is planning to withdraw from the Graduate Recruitment Code, which prevents law firms offering students training contracts before their final year of university. The move has provoked concern in many quarters, particularly for its diversity implications. Is this liberalisation going too far?

Rental arithmetic


The efficient use of a firm’s real estate is fast becoming one of the most pertinent issues as the market gets to grips with rapidly changing working environments. What is certain is that for the majority of firms property is still one of their biggest costs. Which is why for the past three years The Lawyer, exclusively, has been collecting attributed real estate data as part of the research for the annual UK 200 report. As our in-depth analysis reveals, despite a growing momentum ...

Flexible working


The trend for working flexibly is gathering significant pace and as this week’s analysis of Allen & Overy’s Peerpoint reveals, for some firms it’s also a way into new markets domestically and internationally. For years lawyers who worked part time or flexibly were derided in some quarters as second rate. Now, with rapidly growing number of lawyers working flexibly and impressive turnover increases at various offerings, it looks like an idea whose time has come.

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Brand management


Building a law firm brand is a complex business. It involves everything from culture, client service, operational efficiency, ethical values – and then communicating that whole package to the outside world. As our recent analysis shows, tailoring that message to Generation Y, firms’ future trainees, presents even more challenges.

East meeting West, again


The combination of US-European Dentons with China’s Dacheng will create the world’s biggest law firm. On paper, that’s a lot of global reach – as long as integration issues are tackled. For more on Dacheng and a close analysis of Chinese firms, check out our China Elite.

The West Coast comes to London


The launch of Cooley’s UK office has been rumoured for months. Last week The Lawyer broke the news that the West Coast tech firm – whose clients include Facebook and LinkedIn – had finally inked the deal on its London launch. It is starting up with 55 lawyers drawn from MoFo and Edwards Wildman. Nothing like beginning with a bang.

Professional claims


The Lawyer will shortly be unveiling its top 20 cases to look out for in 2015. How many of them will be professional negligence claims? Many of 2014’s biggest claims settled, but not all; current cases involving Mishcon and Bird & Bird are still active.

Latest cases: what you need to know


Keep up to speed with the latest cases by checking out The Lawyer’s Briefings section online. It’s an unparalleled resource; below is just a selection of recent papers by law firms putting the latest decisions into context.

Busy litigators


There’s no slacking off for litigators in the run-up to Christmas. From divorce to insolvency and investigations, contentious practices have been firing on all cylinders. See below for a selection of our litigation coverage – and keep logging on to the site to hear the latest litigation news.

Doing business in the Arab world


How do you best access the Arab market? It’s a lucrative world out there, but you’ll need to understand the cultural nuances. The Lawyer’s guide to doing business in the Arab world provides key insight on the region, and includes research on the leading independent firms in the Middle East and North Africa.

Big data, big problems


The rise of big data has created some logistical headaches for lawyers, who are often unversed in the intricacies of computer forensics. A recent survey by The Lawyer Research Service and Grant Thornton underlined this knowledge gap. Get up to speed on the issue by clicking on the links below.

Probing questions


Regulatory and investigation work has become the backbone of many City firms’ litigation practices. As the stories below demonstrate, the high-profile mandates involving the high street banks are largely being dominated by a handful of law firms.

Tales from the top


The Lawyer’s weekly leadership interviews have become a fixture among readers; you’re accessing them in droves. Catch up with the movers and shakers in private practice every Friday, and remind yourself of their thinking by clicking on to our most recent interviews below.

A feast of data


The Lawyer UK 200 is now out. It’s the most comprehensive and influential report on the financial health of the UK legal market. Take a peek at some of our round-ups below. Follow the links to buy the full research, and don’t miss out.

In and around the house


What should aspiring general counsel know about getting the top job? A recent roundtable brought a number of in-house heads and deputy heads together to discuss preconceptions of the GC role. And as our other stories indicate, the GC jobs market is a very fluid one at the moment.

Gender dilemmas


Women make up over half the entrants into the legal profession, but nowhere near that proportion make it to partner. Do they need help from above, or should they look to themselves to build their own networks?

Brand magic


Linklaters achieves top law firm ranking in Superbrands index

Time well spent


Mishcon boss Kevin Gold attracted a lot of attention last week in our regular Leadership Interview when he declared that the firm’s lawyers could take as much holiday as they feel they need. It’s controversial and it’s certainly creative. But will it catch on?

Managing the managers


The 22 October the second annual The Lawyer Management conference will take place. With sessions on financial trends, knowledge management, HR, real estate strategy and risk, it’s a must-attend for managing partners and senior operations people in law firms. The future of the law is here.

Burgeoning Belfast


Belfast has become a magnet for international firms wanting to site their low-cost operations; think Herbert Smith, Allen & Overy and Baker &McKenzie. But it’s also become popular with firms wanting to expand their legal offerings. Pinsent Masons, Kennedys and most recently BLM have all merged with local firms.

The China Elite is here


When The Lawyer published the Asia Pac 150, 35 of the region’s top firms were Chinese. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the PRC legal market. This week we publish the most detailed research available on Chinese firms: their financial performance, growth and international strategy and the particular challenges that each of them faces. Click the links below to download it and the Asia Pacific research.

So it's a No


Scotland has decided to stay in the United Kingdom, but the Downing Street declaration, in which David Cameron has pledged more devolution across the UK. The questions raised by the independence debate will keep constitutional lawyers busy for years.

A big yes, or a big no?


As the Scottish referendum campaign enters its final week, the debate is getting increasingly heated. While many lawyers are declining to go on the record, The Lawyer’s exclusive that a major Anglo-Scottish firm is shifting its cash to English accounts has caused waves. Read more about the Scottish reaction in our stories below.

An unbundle of joy


Not a week seems to go by without another firm revealing a low-cost centre, almost always to house document production and general support. This summer brought a whole host of announcements: if you blink, you might just miss them.

Feeding the deals


With corporate work well and truly firing again, M&A lawyers are basking in the sunlight. Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly Deals Insider email for the latest news on who’s acting for whom.

Space, the final frontier


Newly-weds Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham want to get even closer. Following the successful conclusion of their merger talks, they’re now after an office where they can really get to know each other. Just don’t bother offering them a Canary Wharf office.

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Litigation, litigation, litigation


The Lawyer’s bank of briefings has a wealth of up-to-the-minute information and analysis on legal developments, provided by top law firms across the world. Just check out the recent summaries on litigation, free to download.

Justice is blind


Clifford Chance, Macfarlanes and Mayer Brown are rolling out CV-blind recruitment policies to try and counter unconscious bias in favour of privately-educated applicants. Will it really make a difference? Why have so few firms followed suit?

Hot, hot, hot


Off on your hols? Flying somewhere warm? Impress the barman with your superb knowledge of the local legal market by reading up on our jurisdictional reports. You never know when it might come in useful.

North wind


Has Leeds lost its lustre? That’s the question we posed earlier this month, and trawled through much data to find out. Is the Yorkshire legal market losing out to its rivals across the Pennines?

PEP spray


The debate over profit per equity partner (PEP) as a financial metric never seems to go away. Earlier this year Dentons decided to stop disclosing global PEP to The American Lawyer, saying it was ‘meaningless’. For a British take on the issue, read what former Ashurst boss Charlie Geffen has to say.

Leaders of the pack


The Lawyer’s weekly leadership interview has proved very popular with readers. In our regular slot we find out the stories behind the figures, and what makes law firm managing partners tick.

Layton's first hundred days


Within just a few months of taking the helm at Clifford Chance, managing partner Matthew Layton is making his presence felt. His radical slim-down of the management layer will be watched closely by other magic circle firms.

Magic numbers


The Big Four have revealed their results in the space of a week, and it’s good reading for partners at those mega-firms. Freshfields still maintains top spot in PEP, but more pleasing for the big firms is top-line growth. Check out our analysis of the magic circle’s performance over ten years.

Barclays' panel beating


Barclays has taken a radical approach to appointing legal advisers in its first review since 2011, which has slashed the list of firms.

Triumph and tiaras


The Lawyer Awards, in association with Travelers, is the biggest night of the legal year. The top prizes went to RPC, No5 Chambers, Jones Day, PayPal and Royal Mail among others. To find out more about the winners, read below.

Better together


In-house teams are increasingly demanding that their panel firms collaborate more on projects. This week has already seen significant moves by RBS and Barclays, which are now requiring law firms to partner with each other. This is the future.

Trebles all round


Get your glad rags on and prepare to celebrate. The biggest night in the legal calendar is here: It’s The Lawyer Awards 2014, now in its twentieth year. Find out more about our finalists.

China ambitions


What does Linklaters need to do in China? Will it replicate its alliance strategy in South Africa and Australia? Relationships in the Chinese market are shifting all the time, as the stories below demonstrate.

A&O follows its own partner


Magic circle firms are flirting with different ways to approach jurisdictions. Allen & Overy has opportunistically opened in Canada after partner Francois Duquette said he wanted to go back home. Duquette had already spearheaded the firm’s foray into Africa and Abu Dhabi. That’s some track record.

The accountants really are coming


We all know that the Big Four are eyeing the legal market again – and this time, they want to get it right. The question is, are law firms ready and able to defend their perch?

Pound signs


Financial results are starting to pour in. It’s a mixed picture, but largely positive. Here are just some of the recent results stories we’ve run; for more, go to our dedicated financial news page.

Croatian skies


As Croatia takes the stage in Brazil today, thoughts turn lightly to the country’s legal developments. We’ve teamed up with some of the country’s leading firms to bring you their analysis.

Russia, South Korea


Russia and South Korea are fascinating not just because they’re slugging it out in a packed stadium. Both jurisdictions create plenty of work for lawyers, so get a handle on the latest market news by reading our stories below.

The discreet charm of onshoring


Opening a low-cost support centre in the UK has now become the norm amongst larger firms. Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills have launched in Belfast, Ashurst in Glasgow and most recently Hogan Lovells in Birmingham. Where next – Cardiff, Newcastle, Dundee?

Commoditising the market


Nowhere has the legal market changed so radically as the insurance sector over the last ten years. The Lawyer’s research shows the extent to which consolidation has become the norm. Pricing challenges remain, but the dominant firms are truly emerging.

Brazilian trends


It’s begun! If the world media coverage hasn’t put you off, and you want to find out more about Brazil and football from a business perspective, then don’t miss the analyses we’re curating. Lawyers and sport: a volatile mix?

World cup rules


There’s a small matter of a football tournament beginning this week. Is your workplace prepared? Check out the following pieces by Allen & Overy, Eversheds,  Gateley, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Shoosmiths to make sure you’re covered.

Gender tenders


City law firms have now officially put female career progression at the top of their to-do lists. Linklaters has become the latest firm to set targets for female representation at partnership level. Is this a sign of real change, or is it hot air?

Taking the temperature


If you want to find out what’s going on, ask an expert. The Lawyer’s regular peer panels quiz leading practitioners and business professionals on the key trends in their areas. Hear it from the horse’s mouth.

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Harmony reigns supreme


Dissenting opinions at the highest court in the land used to be rife. But as The Lawyer’s article, All For One, highlighted, there has been a dramatic decline in dissenting opinions at the Supreme Court. What’s the reason for this?

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