Two billion or not two billion?

Two billion or not two billion?

The benchmark for US firms was well and truly set last week when Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom broke the $2bn revenue barrier for the first time.

Two billion or not two billion?

The benchmark for US firms was well and truly set last week when Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom broke the $2bn revenue barrier for the first time.

Today another US firm followed suit, posting global revenues of $2.1bn and surpassing Skadden in the process. That firm was DLA Piper (see story).

What? DLA Piper’s not a US firm? In fact the firm continues to operate separate profit pools in the US and in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Despite its claims of being a fully integrated, merged firm, many will argue that it’s not a true member of the $2bn club. An impressive performance nonetheless from the transatlantic/Anglo American/international Yorkshire-based global firm.

Meanwhile The Lawyer podcast is now live and can be accessed by clicking here. Hear DLA Piper joint chief executive Nigel Knowles discuss Facebook and the credit crunch – plus a peek behind the scenes at The Lawyers’ Orchestra.

The US figures continue to stream in and are providing an intriguing snapshot of a market in flux. There will be more next week.

Also coming up in The Lawyer next week:
– Slater & Gordon’s chief operating officer Mike Feehan discusses life at the world’s first listed law firm;
– A profile of MySpace general counsel Christopher Heather;
Norton Rose Islamic finance partner Neil D Miller wades in to the Shariah law debate started by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Law firms go mad for V-Day

Hammonds has celebrated Valentine’s Day with a female-only shindig at London diamond trader Holts Jewellers.

Clients including Barclays, Lloyds TSB and RBS received lessons in identifying a real diamond and were then put to the test. See story.

But such Valentine’s shenanigans have been stonewalled by other firms: “Nothing but a commercial rip-off,” cried a source at Clyde and Co. “Hideous, commercialised nonsense,” echoed Thompsons Solicitors.

So just as well these lovesick cynics weren’t invited to Freshfields or Linklaters.

If the jelly bean love hearts being distributed to staff wouldn’t cause rumblings in their stomachs, the fountain in the firms canteen overflowing with gooey, icky chocolate-flavoured lurve probably would do.

BLP’s Anglo-Saxon attitudes
Coming up with daily commentary on the goings on in the legal profession can be exhausting, so we thought we’d hire in some help.

Rob Brydon, star of TV shows Marion & Geoff, Oliver Twist and that one about Napoleon, was the host of The Lawyer’s second HR Awards ceremony, held last night in London’s Park Lane Hilton. His observations have written this script for us.

Berwin Leighton Paisner had it coming from the off. Even before the firm’s HR team ran away with three of the night’s trophies, the champagne-charged rabble saw Brydon give them an ASBO for noise pollution. Patrick McCann, the firm’s hirsute head of training, meanwhile, will from this day forth be known as Beowulf after his awarding-collecting bound saw him compared to the Anglo-Saxon hero.

Addleshaw Goddard graduate recruitment manager Brett Galloway was also on the receiving end of Brydon’s wit when a particularly cocksure swagger onstage saw him labelled a “confident young man” by the comedian. It was a euphemism.

But an ASBO wasn’t all that BLP collected. After trooping off with three awards, Beowulf’s smile sparkled as brightly as his glittering tie.

A consummation devoutly to be wished
Story of the day is CMS Cameron McKenna’s non-integration with its CMS allies across the world. See story

Of course, CMS is claiming this to be “closer alignment” but sources around the network suggest that this latest move smacks of a political compromise.

The genesis of the CMS plan for integration was when the UK partners at CMS Cameron McKenna looked enviously at the likes of DLA Piper and Eversheds and thought we should be more like that. Then they thought, hang on, we are like that – if only we could bond properly with our allies.

It was a big if.

Unfortunately their allies didn’t want to get that close to them. While the UK partners wanted a Deloitte-style network operating under one CMS brand, its allies wanted to remain independent.

So in the end they voted for “closer alignment”, common procedures and the like.

New CMS executive partner Dick Tyler claims this is the “evolution” of a 20-year relationship. But the time was ripe for consummation. And Camerons just couldn’t make it happen.

My bloody valentine
Perhaps it is a strange twist of fate or maybe the listings clerk has a perverse sense of humour, but two of the largest divorce cases of the year are being heard in the same week as Valentines Day.

The Paul McCartney/ Heather Mills McCartney divorce debacle hits the courts today. The soon-to-be former Mrs McCartney has been swotting up on the law so that she can represent herself in court after falling out with her lawyers at Mishcon de Reya. See story.

While Mills sets out her stall as a legal expert, Susan Crossley probably could represent herself in court. She’s now on her fourth divorce from a multi-millionaire.

On Wednesday, her lawyer, Raymond Tooth of Sears Tooth, is trying to persuade the divorce courts that her estranged husband, Stuart Crossley, failed to disclose his full financial wealth when they signed the pre-nuptial agreement.

You might argue that was understandable given her track record but if Tooth successfully argues that the contract is not binding because of the disclosure failure then she could scoop an even bigger slice of his fortune.

One barrister who probably won’t be enjoying a candlelit dinner on Thursday is 12 King’s Bench Walk’s Lincoln Crawford, who has been named as the stalker recorder convicted of harassing his ex-wife, Irwin Mitchell partner Bronwen Jenkins, and her new partner. See story.

Well, if he is enjoying a candlelit dinner, it will probably be from the other side of the window.