Brightest and best face up to change

Catrin Griffiths

On the first day of the Hot 100 photo shoot I hosted a roundtable discussion with Thomson Reuters at Blackstone Chambers. The theme was transformation and the participants were a stellar set of lawyers in management, fresh from their close-ups in the morning. 

Given the calibre of those present the discussion was – not surprisingly – lively, with everyone sharing insights into business priorities in a rapidly shifting market. Ben Tidswell of Ashurst, Stephen Kon of KWM SJ Berwin and David Raine of Penningtons Manches had fascinating things to say about the challenge of integration after mergers. RPC’s Jonathan Watmough and Pinsent Masons’ Alison Bond spoke eloquently on the people issues facing private practice.

Perhaps most revealing, though, was the intensity with which those present listened to the experiences of Slater & Gordon’s Neil Kinsella and Irwin Mitchell’s John Pickering. 

For a long time corporate firms have professed to have nothing in common with those providing consumer legal services, but over the past two years both firms have been absolutely at the forefront of change. They may be providing services to individuals but the degree of sophisticated thinking at those firms puts many corporate-facing partnerships to shame.

In the course of the discussion, one participant confessed that he wished clients would get more assertive, because that would hasten transformation in private practice. 

Of course, if you look at our list of in-housers to watch this year, assertive is exactly what they’ve been. They’re a formidable bunch, from BT’s Dan Fitz and Heathrow’s Carol Hui to HS1’s Lucy Lazzeri and Lambeth’s Mark Hynes.  

The Hot 100 shoot took place on the day of the walkout and demonstrations by legal aid lawyers. This year, we honour some of those working in that sector: Raju Bhatt of Bhatt Murphy, Margaret Gordon of Christian Khan, Maura McGowan QC of the Bar Council, Carol Storer of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group and Leslie Thomas of Garden Court Chambers. Reading what they’ve been doing is a reality check.