Catrin Griffiths

Doing the business

30-Nov-2015 | By Catrin Griffiths

Business services staff are the backbone of any law firm. From HR and communications to business development and technology, lawyers need the support of professional staff. But how much do law firms invest in these functions? For the first time, we have the answer: The Lawyer UK200 Business Services report has metrics on every department in the top law firms.

Index of inclusion


The Lawyer’s Diversity Audit, out this week, is the first of its kind. Backed with data on the top 200 law firms, we shine a light on the initiatives around gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social mobility and diversity and pick our five Diversity Champions – the firms that have committed serious time and resources to the issue. Is your firm on the list?

Relationship capital


This week The Lawyer reveals the first cut of information from The Lawyer Market Intelligence (LMI), our new digital information tool that tracks the relationships between hundreds of law firms and thousands of companies. Want to know which law firms are doing what work for the FTSE 250? Read on.

The UK 200 2015


For the first time this year we are releasing our annual in-depth analysis of the top 200 firms in the UK in a series of reports, each focusing on a different segment of the market. This week we revealed that UK-headquartered firms are less global than many think, while previous reports examined the UK’s independent firms and the cost of real estate. For full access to any of the suite of reports, contact

The state of real estate


The Lawyer has begun a weekly blog on developments in the real estate sector. Covering the deals, the people and the strategies of the leading law firms, it’s becoming a must-read for property lawyers around the country. Send your deals information to

Beginning of a beautiful friendship


Morocco used to be a French legal fiefdom, but has now attracted the attention of the Anglo-Saxon giants, who see it as a gateway to Africa. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright led the way in 2011-12, but with Dentons and now DLA Piper launching in Casablanca, Morocco still looks very hot indeed.

Hot enough for you?


Every January The Lawyer reveals its Hot 100, in which we applaud lawyers making a difference for their businesses or their clients. Over the last few months we’ve been revisiting the Hot 100 alumni and seeing what they have been doing since receiving their accolade. The Lawyer is currently assembling the 2016 list. If you want to nominate somebody, then drop an email to ...

Walls come tumbling down


The Lawyer’s second edition of the China Elite Report, which ranks the country’s largest 30 firms by revenue and the 10 largest international firms by their mainland China lawyer headcount, has broken new ground: for the first time, the financials of Chinese firms are revealed. We also look at metrics such as leverage and female partners, and reveal the 10 fastest growing firms by revenue and by headcount this year. Unmissable research: for more details, email

Invasion from the south


Scottish independents are falling like flies. Heavyweight English insurance firms have been making considerable inroads across the border, starting with DWF and Biggart Baillie in 2012. Berrymans Lace Mawer merged with HBM Sayers and TLT acquired Anderson Fyfe. And now Clyde & Co has merged with Simpson & Marwick, previously a Kennedys target. Anyone else left?

The lure of Korea


Allen & Overy has become the third magic circle firm to open in the South Korean capital Seoul, joining Clifford Chance, DLA Piper, Linklaters, Milbank Tweed and Skadden Arps. But Seoul is attractive not just to the international mega-players, with Stephenson Harwood establishing a base and Taylor Wessing and Bird & Bird signing alliances with local firms. It’s clear that this market is by no means saturated.

Leading the pack


Every week The Lawyer runs an interview with law firm leaders that goes behind the headlines to probe law firm strategy and uncover operational priorities. It’s become one of our most-read sections. Catch up on some of our most popular interviews below. How do your leaders measure up?

Agility is all


Amid the clamour for work-life balance, law firms are responding with a series of flexible working policies that allow more people to work from home. And of course, with rents a major part of firms’ expenditure, it helps take the pressure off space requirements too. Will it soon become the norm?

A very public decision


Gateley’s move to float on AIM earlier this year intrigued the market. It was certainly an unexpected move; most had tipped Irwin Mitchell to be the first commercial law firm to seek a stock market listing. But as our detailed analysis shows, the deal is less radical than on first sight.

Prime locations


The UK’s property market is overheating, particularly in Central London. With ever more law firms moving into the City, how can they make good use of the space available? And which firms are being the most creative?

What’s your worth in the market?


The Lawyer’s first salary survey, in partnership with Kinsella Legal, covers lawyer’s pay, base salaries, bonuses, benefits and pay satisfaction. As well as their wider career satisfaction and aspirations, we’ve unearthed eye-opening information about the effects on earnings of location, sector, experience and gender.

Going public


With even more budget cuts set to fall on local authority legal teams, innovation and creativity are at a premium if councils want to continue to deliver services. Luckily for the general public, local authority lawyers are stepping up to the challenge with wholesale reinvention – and look set to challenge private practice for key mandates.

Floating your boat


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.

Catrin 2012 150

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.

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