Mishcon’s new court battle

Mishcon’s new court battle
This time last year Mishcon de Reya’s Anthony Julius was the celebrity lawyer, having notched up hundreds of column inches in the national press.

This time last year Mishcon de Reya’s Anthony Julius was the celebrity lawyer, having notched up hundreds of column inches in the national press.

Though he lost that accolade to Payne Hicks Beach partner Fiona Shackleton last month – she had 274 press mentions compared with a measly 69 for Julius- today’s he’s back in the media spotlight.

In the stand at court 60 at the Royal Courts of Justice, Julius was defending his firm, which has got caught up in a row between trustees and board members of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its former chief executive Simon Winters (see story).

Winters wants to stop Mishcon from representing JNF in his employment dispute with the charity because he claims Julius gave him personal advice relating to a libel matter.

It’s had the Jewish community enthralled, but it hasn’t been picked up yet by the wider media.

But that’s just a matter of time. In fact, we reckon that after this case Julius may have replaced Ms Shackleton at the top of the most-mentioned list.


In The Lawyer on Monday: how women in the law are getting through the concrete ceiling; the meaning of value statements; Clifford Chance’s first every CSR manifesto and the past, present and future of Forsters.

Eversheds sheds Norwich

Eversheds’ decision to take an axe to its Norwich business has been a long time coming.

As we report today, a total number of 33 lawyers firmwide plus an as yet unspecified number of staff – are facing redundancy, with everyone else being transferred to the firm’s Cambridge office (see story).

Eversheds is blaming current market conditions, which is fair enough. But its line that the Cambridge and Norwich offices are ‘merging’? Codswallop.

Telling a bunch of lawyers they have to go and work in Cambridge does not constitute an office merger. No, Eversheds is closing down an entire office – and one which played an important part in the firm’s history. The heritage Norwich practice of Daynes Hill & Perks was a key player in the creation of the Eversheds network back in the 1990s.

And there’s something else which doesn’t quite wash. The closure is not just about the credit crunch; it may have provided the current impetus for the decision, but you’d have to be catastrophically affected to shut down an entire office.

Rather, for the last few years Eversheds’ Norwich base has occupied the unloved position of a back office with a decreasing number of champions within the firm.

Its demise was inevitable. This was not done on the hoof; it was strategic.

Plus: how’s your firm doing? The state of play and the shape
of things to come in this year’s The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2008. And where should the smart money be placed?

Carbon confession
If you and your firm want to cut your carbon count but are too embarrassed to admit that you don’t know how, don’t worry: you’re not alone.

DLA Piper, Freshfields, SJ Berwin and Bristol’s Burges Salmon all feel the same way, which is the reason that they have got together to come up with a scheme for assessing just how much CO2 they are actually responsible for (see story)

The code, designed by the Legal Sector Alliance to show firms how to be more green, is the brainchild of newly-re-elected DLA boss Nigel Knowles, who says he “had a call to arms in October where we got people from about 30 law firms round for breakfast in our offices to say ‘why don’t we take the lead here?’”

Some 18 firms including DLA, A&O, Eversheds, Herbies, Lovells, Linklaters and the Law Society have all pledged to reveal their carbon shoe size by Christmas, but cautious types shouldn’t worry: using the scheme doesn’t mean that you’ll have to reveal yours too.

“Even if you don’t agree that climate change is an issue, just doing things better and more efficiently is a cost saver,” Knowles added. “It’s an absolute no-brainer.”

We’ll second that.


Should third party litigation funding be allowed? Half of you think so. Meanwhile the support staff debate continues. Plus: Slaughters’ generation game; detecting fraud with Kroll’s Grant MacPherson; how top firms position themselves for India and new special reports on Spanish real estate, on carbon capture regulation; on investment in Portugal and why Spanish firms look to South America to weather the credit crunch.

Hammanchester City
Try as we might to elevate your minds to worthy topics such as diversity, CSR or the Legal Services Act, nothing gets the wires buzzing quite like a story on football.

Firms including Shearman & Sterling and Brabners had starring roles in the action that resulted form the closure of the transfer window last night, but the man of the match was Hammonds, due to its valuable tie-up with Manchester City (see story)

First up, the firm represented Man City on its £200m sale to Abu Dhabi United Group, a consortium led by Arab businessman Dr Sulaiman al-Fahim, who said yesterday that the group is “looking to make the same kind of impact at Manchester City that has happened at Chelsea.”

Second, Hammonds also represented Man City on its record-breaking (and Chelsea-beating) £34.2m signing of Brazil and Real Madrid forward Robinho.

Though it began last year, the Man City relationship has been a lucrative one for Hammonds, which has already acted for it in a pair of deals including, er, sacking former England manager Sven Goran Erikson.

Let’s hope that corporate partner David Hull’s relationship with the club under al-Fahim remains as firm as it was under former owner and ex Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

But while Hammonds may be grabbing the headlines, which other firms are in the Premiership line up? See our feature to find out.


Plus: Our revelation yesterday about dissatisfaction in the law has turned into a debate – click here to contribute. And: how top firms are positioning themselves for India , the SRA racism row rages on and new special reports on Spanish real estate; on carbon capture regulation; on investment in Portugal and on why Spanish firms look to South America to weather the credit crunch storm.

HR take
Almost two thirds of them don’t feel their roles are valued.

Not even one in five feels there are good opportunities for promotion.

And only a quarter feel they are given clear messages about their career potential.

But it’s not just the support staff. The malaise affects the professionals too, with less than half satisfied with their salaries or convinced that partnership is achievable; and only just over a quarter believing the firm provides a good alternative to partnership.

All of which should have HR teams scratching their heads and wondering just what to do about the terrible morale.

That is, if they feel it’s worth it. Which being in a support team, they just might not. Managing partners, over to you.


Plus: cheerier employment news for US interns; the latest on our fantasy stocks; and new special reports on carbon capture and regulation; opportunities in Portugal and why Spanish firms are looking to South America to weather the credit crunch storm.