Money laundering, the axe and the old Bill

Unfortunately the most worthy story of the day is by far the most important. While we could have talked flippantly about gay discrimination claims, partners sacked for money laundering or Hammonds wielding the axe over a fringe practice, today is dominated by the Legal Services Bill.

Olswang, Halliwells and Irwin Mitchell, on your marks!

As we report today, the most eagerly awaited new legislation directly affecting the UK legal market was approved yesterday by the House of Lords.

The Legal Services Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent next week. There were, as we reported, a few minor tweaks to iron out. One major compromise saw the Government cave in on accepting the necessity of having the Lord Chief Justice consulted on appointments to the new Legal Services Board.

Democracy in action, we love it.

But what we really, really love is what the new act will mean for England’s top law firms. In June this year we reported that almost a third of the firms in The Lawyer’s UK 100 (including the three named at the top) were in favour of allowing the injection of third-party capital.

We imagine there’ll be several senior partners around the country having a very happy time this weekend as they look forward to the day their ‘legal company’ is listed on the stock exchange.

Yesterday’s events brought that milestone a lot closer. (For the sexier stories, see below.)

Herbies latest to dabble in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is flavour of the month. No sooner had we reported that Clyde & Co was beefing up in the emirate via the hire of a former Dentons partner (see story) than Herbert Smith confirmed its plans to open an office there in January (see story).

Abu Dhabi has quickly become one of the Middle East’s hottest jurisdictions. (Must be global warming. Boom boom.) While surrounding countries remain lucrative, many law firms have recently strived to reap the rewards of setting up on-the-ground presences, serving clients in the energy and projects sector. Projects king Allen & Overy (A&O) also set up in Abu Dhabi in the summer.

A&O will hardly be quaking in its boots at Herbies’ recent push for international projects work, but Herbies’ savvy senior partner David Gold reckons that’s where the smart money is and is positioning the firm accordingly. Gold might want to make a few more hires though – with only a handful of partners focused on projects, sending them off to man new office launches could be spreading their skills a bit thin.

A&O: in, out, shake it all about

The revolving door at Allen & Overy (A&O) has been spinning at full tilt this week.

Giving it a push today is Stefano Sennhauser, freshly arrived at A&O’s Milan office from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (see story).

Going in the opposite direction, meanwhile, is projects, energy and infrastructure global head Graham Vinter, who has decided to forge his path in-house at BG Group (see story).

We hear his successor at A&O is to be someone with whom Vinter is well acquainted: Anne Baldock, aka Mrs Graham Vinter.

What’s his is hers, after all.

And to prove that it’s not all about partner moves, A&O has consolidated its position as adviser of choice during these difficult market conditions.

Not only does it have a role – sorry, roles – on the Northern Rock saga, but it is also advising the trio of US banks on the pipeline of funds they are setting up to inject some liquidity back into the market (see story).

All that A&O news nearly managed to deflect the attention from yet another Dentons departure. Nearly.

Nike job if you can get it

After a depressing weekend of defeats in football, rugby and motor racing (we weren’t playing cricket as well, were we?), Baker & McKenzie was celebrating today (see story).

The firm scored a corker of a new client with an instruction from England rugby kit manufacturer Nike on its first UK acquisition – the £284m takeover of England football kit manufacturer Umbro. It is understood that neither company can be blamed for Lewis Hamilton’s downfall.

Bakers partner Tim Gee commented: “The nature of the business is fun. Football is one of Nike’s fastest-growing sports. The UK is the largest football market and Umbro is an iconic football brand. It’s not every day you get to speak to the Football Association.”

Gee and team Nike managed to convince the FA to waive its change-of-control termination rights in respect of Umbro’s supply of kit to the England footie team. We’re hoping they gained change-of-control termination rights in respect of Steve McClaren’s job.

Have your say on Linklaters

Today’s profile of Linklaters managing-partner elect Simon Davies in The Lawyer unmasks a man who has risen quietly but spectacularly through the ranks of the magic circle firm.

Davies is embarking on a firm-wide consultation to find out what partners and employees, top to bottom, want Linklaters to be. The results will help shape Davies’ strategic vision.

The former Asia managing partner has pledged to put people at the heart of his vision – an interesting prospect for the firm that built up such a strong reputation for sacking people under the regime of his predecessor Tony Angel.

But Davies’ rhetoric is not without precedent: as he told The Lawyer podcast, he slashed attrition rates in Asia by focusing on training and development.

Perhaps we can help with Davies’ consultation. What do you think the future of Linklaters should look like? Add your own comment at the bottom of the story or email us at lawyernewsdaily@thelawyer.com