A new chapter for The Lawyer

You will have noticed something different about your copy of The Lawyer today. As we announced last week, we’re launching a redesign.

We wanted a cleaner, brighter look with a more coherent flow of pages. We also wanted to publish on recycled paper. So for the past few months we’ve been working with John Belknap, a renowned newspaper designer who has worked on major titles across Europe, to create something fresh.

This isn’t just about making it look prettier – although that helps. Over the past few years, delivery of content has changed dramatically, not least thanks to lawyers’ use of BlackBerrys. We now break a significant number of big stories every week on www. lawyer.com rather than in print. You’ll now find a review of the week’s activity on the web on page 2, along with a regular top 10 of the most popular news stories on our website. (The results may surprise you.)

We’ll still be running the biggest stories of the week every Monday, but our redesign gives us space for even more investigative reporting and analysis.

This issue sets the tone for the coming year. Today we examine the travails of Allen & Overy‘s mighty banking department, and we’ll be returning to the big issues affecting the magic circle in future weeks.

Similarly, as part of our unrivalled coverage of in-house counsel, we’re running an exclusive interview with two of the most powerful lawyers in the UK, Miller McLean and Chris Campbell of RBS. They’re two of the nicest chaps we’ve met, but it doesn’t stop private practice lawyers being completely cowed by the power of their panel – not one partner dared to go on the record about them.

There’s not enough space here to point out all the changes, but I will draw your attention to this week’s launch of a fortnightly column on the rule of law on page 11. Although our editorial focus is on the commercial legal profession, and in particular the City, we recognise that most of our readers feel strongly about the rule of law. Legal systems in many developing countries are creaking under the twin strains of authoritarianism and corruption. This is the dark side of globalisation.

Every government with autocratic tendencies – and we do not exclude New Labour here – will attack judges. At The Lawyer we’ve had a few run-ins with judges ourselves, but we believe an independent judiciary at home and abroad is fundamental, along with a strong and independent legal profession.

We hope you enjoy our new direction.