Tulkinghorn: Reggae for business

The arrival of QualitySolicitors on TV screens across the country has divided the profession, with some scoffing at the firm’s attempt to reach out to the consumer audience.

What would they know? In the modern world it is a catchy tune that can prick the ears, a trick not missed by QualitySolicitors.

Thanks to Rachel K Collier’s cover of the Jimmy Cliff classic Hard Road to Travel, the law firm branding machine can call it a success. After all, which other law firm brand can boast 2.1 million hits on YouTube?

Chasing the dragons

One of the challenges constantly facing lawyers is that their busy lifestyle doesn’t leave much time to meet other people – and that includes hot dates (well, dates of any kind).

In that context Tulkinghorn was not entirely surprised that Baker & Mckenzie’s 40-year-old Shanghai partner Victor Gu turned to a popular reality TV matchmaking show in China recently in an attempt to increase his chances of striking it lucky.

Despite the fact that the 24-year-old lady contestant he chose eventually failed to express the necessary levels of reciprocal affection in the end, Gu’s performance and presentation on the show was highly praised by his peers.

Tulkinghorn doffs his cap to Gu, a brave pioneer in a new way for busy lawyers longing for love to find happiness. Or not.

City limits

Slaughter and May’s decades-long reputation as the firm with the highest profit per partner in the City coupled with a canny international approach (ie none) is widely known globally. However, its other nickname seems to have also seeped overseas.

Tulkinghorn recently overheard a rival magic circle firm’s partner in Hong Kong referring to Slaughters as “Islington’s best firm”.

Talk about damning with faint praise.

In fact, if one studies the map carefully, Chiswell Street is the dividing line between the City of London and Islington. Slaughters’ 1 Bunhill Row office does indeed sit on the Islington side of Chiswell Street, meaning the Hong Kong critic is technically correct.

And, as a hair-splitting pedant par excellence, he is in exactly the right job.

Chinese puzzled

The news of the dramatic collapse of debt-laden Dewey & LeBoeuf isn’t just making waves in the firm’s heartland of the US. It’s also caught the attention of Chinese law firms.

Now, as Tulkinghorn is intimately aware, there have been lots of mergers between Chinese law firms, but rarely is there any bank loan or borrowing involved in the process. Indeed, the concept of having enough debts to bring down a global giant overnight is very foreign to partners in Chinese firms.

“What debts?” a puzzled partner of a Chinese firm asked a Tulkinghorn spy last week. “When you expand there is only cost for rentals, staff wages and electricity.”

Ah, if only that had been the case over at Dewey, where the odd hefty

partner guarantee appears to have been the weighty straw that broke its corporate back.

That said, this Chinese partner’s innocent world view should give succour to any Western partners concerned about the potential for competition from the East.

When several Chinese firms set up shop in London recently some UK rivals expressed their worries that the Chinese firms may soon take over their market. But given this relatively unsophisticated view on expansion, this probably won’t happen for a while yet.

Or will it?