A week to remember

12-Oct 2007
A week to remember

Got that Friday feeling? You could do worse than wander down to Chancery Lane, home to Lewis Silkin, where we venture the champagne might be flowing freely.

The firm has had a particularly good week. Not only did its employment team secure a landmark victory for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the age discrimination claim filed against it by former partner Peter Bloxham (see story), but it also landed a withdrawal for its client the International Cricket Council (ICC) by controversial umpire Darrell Hair (see story).

As part of the withdrawal of his race discrimination claims, Hair has had to promise to go on a rehabilitation course. Howzat?

Head of employment Michael Burd, who led on both cases, told The Lawyer: “One gets not many weeks like this in one’s career.”

He then had to rush off to pop some corks.

We intend to do likewise. Happy Friday.

11-Oct 2007
Linklaters‘ Cologne closure: the sweet smell of success?

Nothing concentrates the mind more on lockstep reform than buying in a couple of high-billing laterals.

Linklaters managing partner-elect Simon Davies told The Lawyer that his new recruits, Ralph Wollburg and Achim Kirchfeld from arch-rival Freshfields, would be joining the firm at the top of the UK lockstep (see story).

That means a £500K payrise for the Düsseldorf trailblazers, whose arrival has pushed Linklaters into overhauling its equity ladder, on which German partners were treated like poorer cousins, earning almost a third less than their London counterparts.

It has also pushed a bunch of their would-be partners out the window as the firm closed its Cologne office in favour of setting up shop in the hometown of Wollburg and Kirchfeld.

Those partners, Linklaters maintains, are leaving due to “strategic differences”.

Strategically different? We think that translates as: “The remaining Cologne partners were not seduced into moving house and home 40 miles up the road and abandoning their heritage to conform to Linklaters’ corporate ideal.”

10-Oct 2007
No discrimination recriminations for Freshfields

Can you hear that noise? It’s the sound of time marching on.

Former insolvency partner Peter Bloxham now has plenty of time on his hands to contemplate his failed claim against Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the first major claim in the UK since new age discrimination laws were introduced in October 2006, and the first claim against Freshfields by one of its partners in its 250-year history.

The claim took a long time to hear and even longer to receive a judgment, but today the London Central Employment Tribunal unanimously found in favour of Freshfields (see story).

This is a major boon to the firm as it faces a similar claim by Bloxham’s former colleague and fellow retiree Lois Moore.

Interestingly, the firm has been found guilty of discrimination, but the discrimination was justified because it was proved to be a proportionate means of achieving its ultimate aim, which was reforming its pension system. Do you follow that?

We’ll simplify matters: Freshfields has been found guilty, but it’s OK ‘cos there were wider issues at stake.

09-Oct 2007
In-house party

Labour Day, 1 May, is International Workers’ Day. 8 March is International Women’s Day. More relevantly, 5 April, is International Lawyer’s Day.

But today, The Lawyer is christening International In-house Lawyer’s Day. No, it doesn’t exist already – we just googled it. We hereby claim copyright etc and soforth.

The in-house appointments have been streaming through. Nick Deeming, fresh from launching the Linde Legal Model, has re-emerged at the world’s favourite auctioneers Christie’s.

Barclays general counsel Mark Harding has pulled off a bit of a coup by scooping Goldman Sachs’ investment banking general counsel Michael Crowl as the new GC of its asset management division.

And in the US, the world’s largest supplier of innovative flash memory data storage products SanDisk (they sponsor Ducati motorbikes) has recruited Silicon Valley hotshot Jim Belsford.

You can check all the action out at The Lawyer’s new dedicated in-house channel www.thelawyer.com/inhouse.html

08-Oct 2007
Freshfields decides to switch banks

It’s strange how history is circular.

As we report today, Freshfields is on the back foot over its dual role for the Bank of England and for troubled lender Northern Rock. If you have not received your copy of The Lawyer due to the postal strike, you really should read the story here.

Thank goodness for the internet.

It’s not the first time that the magic circle firm’s relationship with the Bank of England has exposed it to conflict allegations.

In July 1991 Freshfields was trying to wriggle round its role advising the provisional liquidators of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) at the same time as maintaining its 250-year relationship with the Bank of England.

Hilariously, the firm asserted that there was no conflict. (Sounds familiar?)

Not so hilariously, it lost the insolvency work to Lovells. And it’s just as well: the Bank of England, advised by Freshfields, was eventually sued by the liquidators.

But there was a happy ending for the magic circle firm; the three years of court action netted it fees approaching GBP75m.

Strange, then, that in the Northern Rock case, Freshfields has distanced itself from the client it has advised since 1743. Keeping faith with your oldest clients can sometimes pay off. Literally.