02-Nov 2007
A&O sets the standard

Exactly one week ago Allen & Overy‘s (A&O) communications director David Crundwell quit with managing partner David Morley praising him for improving processes and professionalising the communications function.

Crundwell’s legacy was in evidence today as A&O was first out of the blocks with its half-year results, revealing a healthy 16 per cent rise in fee-income, putting it well on course to break the £1bn revenue barrier by year end (see story.

With A&O alumni heading their communications teams, Ashurst and Norton Rose were not far behind A&O with their announcements, and both are celebrating a healthy six months (see story).

CMS Cameron McKenna, which as far as we can see has no link to A&O whatsoever, was cheering a fantastic 21 per cent rise in turnover – a far better performance than last year, when its final turnover was up by a slightly disappointing 6 per cent.

Initial indications suggest other magic circle firms have performed similarly to A&O. You can read more about them in Monday’s edition of The Lawyer.

Also in The Lawyer on Monday:

An examination of Shearman & Sterling‘s new organic recruitment policy; the politics behind the Gianni Origoni split ADD; Byrne in the USA’s New York bonus round-up; and in Tulkinghorn, we reveal David Morley’s personal research on Tony Angel.

And any lawyers who care about the rule of law should read our exclusive interview with Zimbabwe Law Society head Beatrice Mtetwa, in which she reveals the extent of the legal chaos engulfing that country.

01-Nov 2007
No cheap tricks from Slaughters

Hallowe’en came a day late for Slaughter and May‘s associates and trainees. It was definitely more treat than trick when the firm announced a rise in base salaries from today (see story).

Newly qualifieds were already pocketing a beguiling amount – before bonus – but they now earn a ghoulishly good £65,000. Which should definitely have them grinning like pumpkins. Let’s hope that the extra cash doesn’t go up in smoke by Bonfire Night.

Hopping on his broomstick is Eversheds head of employment Viv Du-Feu. Anyone who knows Du-Feu should be suitably amused by that picture.

Du-Feu was in charge of some 280 employment, pensions and HR lawyers at Eversheds, comfortably the largest employment team in the UK. Obviously, it was about two hundred and something too many, because Du-Feu has vanished in a puff of smoke for 12-partner Welsh firm Capital Law (see story).

31-Oct 2007
FFW looks at the bigger picture

Having dismantled its failing European Legal Alliance, Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) has set up its new European network of offices with the remnants of that failure.

The firm has launched an office in Paris with seven partners from former ally Dubarry Le Douarin Veil, which has dissolved (see story).

FFW will be getting a reputation as a homewrecker on the Continent after similar raids split former friends Buse Heberer Fromm in Hamburg and Verhaegen Walravens in Brussels this summer.

Some way to treat an ally. Usually, the done thing is to take partners from your competitors.

But its new offices may just make the firm more attractive to potential allies in the US, where FFW has plans to develop close relationships with a number of firms. The European Legal Alliance may not have worked but, you never know, perhaps an American Legal Alliance will. Hmmm…

30-Oct 2007
Who’s the daddy

Although rumours of the latest transatlantic tie-up had been flying around New York for the past couple of weeks, the reaction today (30 October) once Kendall Freeman’s deal was done was largely “Edwards who?”.

Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge might not be the highest-profile US firm, but with a $300m-plus turnover it’s no slouch. Over the past three years in particular the firm has grown aggressively via laterals and mergers, spreading out from its Boston roots to gain coverage in 10 cities across the US.

This growth strategy of course is always something of a risk. One rival partner described the firm as “a hodgepodge”. But its takeover of Kendall Freeman is a statement of intent.

“It’s a miniature version of Reed Smith,” said one New York lawyer. Well, Reed Smith has managed two mergers in London, one with Warner Cranston and most recently Richards Butler.

This deal alone might not cause anyone in the bulge bracket firms to lose sleep, but if ‘Edwards Who’ is on a similar growth plan to Reed Smith, it could be just the start.

29-Oct 2007

Mayer Brown shows London intent

On the day when The Lawyer revealed US firms are going back to basics by ramping up their trainee recruitment programmes, the firm formerly known as Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw has shown its lawyers the benefit of working for a firm that is truly transatlantic.

Today Mayer Brown announced it would be making up a record-breaking 43 partners worldwide, of whom 10 are in London (see story).

In 2004 and 2005 Mayer Brown made up a miserly zero and two London partners respectively, but last year boosted that to six. Ten new partners this year reveals a firm at which career prospects in London have taken a distinct turn for the better.

US firms such as Cleary and Shearman regularly promote one or two a year. Mayer Brown’s intake works out at as more than 10 per cent of its current partnership. That’s better than both Clifford Chance and Linklaters last year.

Despite dropping the Rowe & Maw from its name, Mayer Brown is finally shaping up as the transatlantic firm it always claimed it was.