Web heads: the rise of the machines

The last year has been TheLawyer.com’s best ever, with figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations showing that the site now has 235,425 unique users.

More stories than ever were broken online, leading to more in-depth analysis of the news for the print ­edition of The Lawyer.

On 8 February, The Lawyer.com brought you news of Allen & Overy (A&O) launching in Australia after poaching a team from local firm ­Clayton Utz. The ­following Monday (15 February) The Lawyer carried an investigation of how global firms were tackling the Australian market, in-depth analysis of the A&O move and a front page story on the strategic divide ­emerging within the magic circle over the best way to target Asia.

Another major story first reported on the ­website before going on to generate many pages of copy in The Lawyer brought the news of Halliwells’ administration.

On 25 June we ­published an online story detailing how Halliwells had filed a notice of its intention to appoint an administrator. The news we continued to break in the following weeks led to our front-page scoop on 2 August, ’Halliwells’ ex-­managing partner: ’I gave my life to that practice”, in which Ian Austin opened his heart about the firm’s demise and his role in the run-up to the administration. This became the most read story in TheLawyer. com’s history and also generated the most vociferous response from readers, with more than 300 comments posted in the ensuing months.

The Lawyer mailouts continued to create a solid line of communication between our readers and the website, with Lawyer News Daily (LND), which is circulated among some 60,000 subscribers, prompting great feedback from the website’s users. Among the LNDs that were particularly well-received was the one in which we likened A&O to a despotic James Bond villain, ­metronomically stroking a fluffy cat in an underground lair and striving to achieve ­global domination with its ­Australia launch.

Then there was the one when CMS Cameron McKenna hired The CMS A-Team of international ­private equity head
Ted ’Hannibal’ Cominos, ­Graham ’Faceman’ Conlon and ’Howling Mad’ ­Alexandra Florea.

And who could forget Hogan Lovells’ moment of masochism, when partners at the firm “felt more pain than most” (LND, 24 June) when a compulsory meeting was scheduled for slap-bang in the middle of one of England’s few World Cup football matches? “With so many interested in the match, the partners agreed not to watch a single minute of the action, ­gagging anyone from hinting at the score,” the LND proclaimed. “The partners also implemented a clampdown on BlackBerrys, ­making a pact not to check their phones for updates during the meeting. ­Luckily, England’s victory meant many would have been spanking their PEP on champagne later that evening.”

The Lawyer in New York continued to attract ­subscribers throughout the year, while The Lawyer ­Litigation Weekly brought our readers news of all the major judicial cases and decisions of 2010. Among those covered by the alert were the March Supreme Court decision in the ongoing divorce battle between Nigerian couple Sikirat Agbaje and Olusola Agbaje, science writer Simon Singh’s successful appeal of Mr ­Justice Eady’s ruling that ­comment could be ­construed as fact, and the ongoing legal battles between Russian ­oligarchs Boris Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich.

For our offshore readers, the year began with our annual ’Offshore Survey’, widely distributed by our Offshore Monthly mailout, which brought news throughout the year of mergers such as the one between Mourant du Feu & Jeune and Ozannes in ­February and Collas Day and Crill Canavan in December.

Meanwhile, there was a surge of interest in The Lawyer Public Sector Watch following the announcement of the coalition Government’s massive cuts. With the sector really ­coming into focus in the ­second half of the year, our final mailout of 2010 carried news of Kent County ­Council seeking to embrace an alternative ­business structure, while also drawing up plans that could see its trailblazing legal chief Geoff Wild seeking ­alternative employment.

To join the mailing list for any of these alerts, log on to https: //myaccount.thelawyer.com/


Your reaction to some of the biggest stories posted on TheLawyer.com throughout 2010…

Halliwells’ ex-managing ­partner: ’I gave my life to that practice’

Why is this man trying to defend his actions when, indirectly or ­directly, he has had a part in seriously damaging the welfare of hundreds of innocent staff and a good number of innocent ­creditors too.

From: sebastiannook.
Posted: 2 August @ 10:20

Credit where credit is due. Ian Austin has at least been prepared to give some comment to the press. What has happened to that star of the legal profession Alec Craig? Would he perhaps care to give us the benefit of his wisdom on the subject
of his role as senior ­partner?

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 3 August @ 12:10

Lots of people have commented on the ­partners’ duty of good faith to their fellow ­partners. But Halliwells LLP was, of course, an LLP. Unless there was a specific ­provision in the members’ agreement ­setting out a duty of good faith to fellow partners, the only duty of faith the partners owed was to the LLP, not their partners.

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 22 September @ 09:01

Slaughters sets up panel for outsourced business

It’s almost unimaginable that the kind of work that has earned Slaughters the reputation it has will be done by anything other than Slaughters lawyers. The outsourcers would be better off ­chasing the wholesalers of the legal market, of which there seem to be an increasing number.

From: Henry Kissinger.
Posted: 4 October @ 15:30

Eventually all legal work will be undertaken by the cheapest Indian call centre staff. Whether people want
that or not is irrelevant. ­Economics will dictate this will happen.

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 5 October @ 09:58

Optima reprimanded by the SRA over Capita investment

SRA not really on the ball here, attacking a structure that the SRA itself will allow and help regulate from Oct 2011, meanwhile, allowing law firms such as Halliwells to run riot in terms of how they were managed – that did real damage to people and the ­profession.

From: Rhubarb & Custard. Posted:
9 August @ 08:58

The SRA have serious issues to address in ­establishing a consistent and transparent policy for regulating solicitors’
firms in the pre-ABS ­environment. Many law firms borrow money, the ­criticism of this by the SRA overlooks commercial realities. Optima may have overstepped the mark but many other firms have not and yet still find themselves engaging with the regulator in an unnecessary and costly debate about commercial convenience and ­professional propriety.

From: Tony Guise.
Posted: 9 August @ 16:32

Clifford Chance funds chief in shock resignation for Simpson Thacher

US firms are now on the verge of a major ­breakthrough in London, driven by mergers with UK firms and lateral hires such as this.

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 20 July @ 10:54

If you’re on a million plus a year, are you really going to change firms (particularly from a firm where you started your career) for a hundred thousand or so more? Or are you leaving because the firm you are ­leaving is much ­different from the firm you joined?

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 22 July @ 18:31

Mayer Brown courtship of Simmons founders

Ten years on and history repeats itself. Mayer Brown merged with Rowe & Maw to solve a problem with a loss-making London office. Its problem then, as now, is that the Chicago power brokers did not and still do not understand the London legal market.

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 7 June @ 11:12

US-UK is clearly the way the market is going at the moment and this more than likely will accelerate over the ­coming months. This might just prove to be a missed opportunity for both firms.

From: Anonymous.
Posted: 7 June @ 15:53

Camerons battles backlash from controversial outsourcing deal

Does anyone honestly join a firm and think that they are not dispensable. It’s 2010. The City of London is one of the most rapacious, capitalistic environments in the world. ­Surprise, surprise – the firm wants to save a few quid. Deal with it or move on.

From: Camerons
Staff – Toughen Up. Posted: 24 May @ 16:34

It is now 2010. ­Outsourcing has been an integral part of the ­business world, as opposed to the legal world, for many years now. I have a hunch that in a few months’ time, many will be very pleased to be working for an organisation which understands them and their professionalism.

From: Barry Wilkinson.
Posted: 25 May @ 21:58

Bingham shocks market with NQ salary of £100K

I don’t mind admitting that I’m envious of the wage of my contemporaries at Bingham, who probably achieved similar academic results to me. Are they worth it? ­Probably not; it takes more than 6 months of photocopying documents in any given department to prove that you’re worth that sort of wage.

From: Live life to the full.
Posted: 15 February @ 18:36

Ex-Hengeler partner quits Milbank after just 10 days

I hope John Grisham has read this story, as he’d love the whole ’no one ever leaves this firm’ plot line. I don’t know what this German partner did to upset his partners but ’The Firm’ has well and truly stuffed him now.

From: Rhubarb & Custard.
Posted: 12 January @ 09:40

I have never seen a law firm publicly announcing that the reason for the departure of one of their partners was gross ­misconduct. It is just ­mysterious how they could believe it would be helpful for ­anyone (including themselves) to place this ­statement. Do they have a PR ­department in the first place?

From: Ralph.
Posted: 14 January @ 16:56