Web week 250906

The Lawyer

‘s Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week’s blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@ thelawyer.com.

A News Daily a day keeps ignorance at bay

The launch of The Lawyer News Daily last Monday heralded a flood of breaking news stories – 31 in total, which is pretty much the equivalent to another edition of The Lawyer.

The week kicked off with law firms moving houses, as news hit that A&O’s office was going to be turned into a shopping mall.

It continued with: “Good news for monoglots everywhere: yesterday the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a lawyer does not have to speak the language of the country they want to practise in.”

This may seem ridiculous to you and me, but is no doubt being celebrated by English lawyers all over Europe.

By Thursday (21 September), Lawyer News Daily’s attention had been grabbed by events in the US, where legendary Silicon Valley lawyer Larry Sonsini sought to defend his role in the Hewlett-Packard scandal: “Sonsini has taken this threat so seriously that he has hired one of the country’s most legendary white-collar crime lawyers, Michael Madigan of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Madigan’s reputation has been built in Washington DC, going back to his role on the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973.

“It was then that Madigan acquired the nickname ‘Mad Dog’. Sonsini’s reputation is on the line; no wonder he wants a lawyer with some bite.”

But we returned to Blighty on Friday (22 September): “Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has dominated the news this week. It’s had more partners leaving, it topped the M&A charts, closed its Singapore office and on Thursday night in the wee small hours it managed to help MFI flog its retail stores for the princely sum of one British pound.

But if there’s one man who could knock Freshfields from the headlines it’s the self-appointed voice of media lawyers Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent, who has grabbed the starring role this week by advising Bolton manager Sam Allardyce on the Panorama revelations.”

Global warning

A whole host of lawyers were in Chicago for the International Bar Association (IBA) conference, where IBA president and Kirkland & Ellis of counsel Francis Neate used the Chicago Tribune (www.chicagotribune. com), as a platform to decry law firm globalisation: “I think the biggest challenge is how do you preserve, in marketing jargon, the brand, when you’re going all over the world? How do you do it when you’ve taken in French partners, German partners, Chinese partners? Firms think about that and work on it a lot. That means spending more time not practicing the law the bigger you get. That’s another problem.

“My guess is that

none of the English firms that have opened offices in New York have made money out of it. I’d be very surprised. Competition is far too hot.”

And when asked, can multinational law firms succeed?Neate replied: “It’s very difficult to manage. All global firms are after a particular type of work – high-end financial transactions. But that’s a small proportion of the legal hours generated. I’m sceptical in the long run.”

You would never guess he was once at Slaughter and May.

Targeting terrorism

Last week also saw the launch of www.terrorismlaw.info, a project by five law firms (Bindman & Partners, Christian Khan, Furnival Chambers, Imran Khan & Partners and McCormacks Solicitors), which have joined together to deliver a clearer understanding of the Government’s recent terrorism legislation, as well as practical advice to those affected by it.

It said: “The law on terrorism is complex and rapidly changing, and the new site aims to provide an accessible and practical guide to the government’s ‘War on Terror’ legislation. It offers a quick and concise summary of the most important provisions of this legislation.

“As this area of law is a controversial one, the contributors also offer analysis and comment on the impact of the recent changes on civil liberties, minority groups and the criminal justice system as a whole.”