a year ago this week

Global CC axed for Ashursts

British Midland (BM) axed global giant Clifford Chance for a smaller firm in the belief that it would receive a "better service".

The UK's second-biggest airline used Ashurst Morris Crisp at this time last year when Scandinavian Airlines Systems sold its 20 per cent stake in BM to Lufthansa for £91.4m.

BM's head of legal Tim Bye said at the time that he was not a particular fan of global law firms, believing the company would get a better service from a smaller firm for its corporate work and a more focused approach for private companies.

A year on and Bye is happy with the service from Ashursts, which has just started on another project for the company. Clifford Chance may have lost out on corporate work, but has nevertheless been instructed by BM to do some aviation finance work.

Rowe & Maw plans Hong Kong office

The Lawyer revealed that Rowe & Maw was talking to an unnamed Chinese firm with a view to forming a joint venture. The main drive to establish a base in Hong Kong was to capitalise on construction and projects work in the region. The Lawyer then revealed that it was in "advanced discussions" with leading banking and finance firm Koo and Partners (The Lawyer, 31 January).

Clients of Koo and Partners include the majority of local banks, as well as the Bank of China Group.

Head of construction at Rowe & Maw Michael Regan, who was leading the talks, said that the firms had reached the stage of discussing profit-sharing arrangements.

Rowe & Maw would say only that the talks are continuing.

Chambers of the year becomes plc

St Philip's Chambers, which last year won the Chambers of the Year at The Lawyer awards, announced plans to launch itself as a public limited company, a first in the legal profession. The move was planned to revolutionise the way St Philip's was run by introducing a corporate culture and collective thinking.

Each of the then 90 tenants of the set were required to contribute £10,000 to the new venture. It was hoped that the investment would cut the chambers' running costs and help the set to provide a cheaper and more competitive service to its clients.

A year on and the company is up and running. It has bought new premises for the chambers in the Bank of England's old building in the centre of Birmingham. Completion takes place on 22 December, and the tenants hope to be installed by the New Year.