Will Wilmer Cutler end up showing Hale the door?
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr’s first end-of-year financials will give all partners cause for cheer. The firm’s turnover for 2004 was $750m (£402.1m). That figure is up a respectable 14 per cent on a combined 2003 total of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering’s $334m (£179.2m) and Hale and Dorr’s $325m (£174.3m).

While all partners at merged firms tend to come over all lovey-dovey, those at Wilmer Cutler are second only to DLA Piper in their evangelism. The merger seems to have been fairly painless so far. Their practices are similar enough to be complementary, but different enough to avoid major conflicts. The firms come from different bases, Wilmer Cutler from Washington DC and Hale & Dorr from Boston, which helps keep merger costs down and in this case managed to keep exits to a minimum.

However, two offices in each of New York, Washington DC, Northern Virginia and London, as well as another in Oxford, tell a story of big property costs to come. If and when the two firms actually move in together we’ll really see if it is true love.

Chancery Division finds new Northern star
According to the judicial rumour-mill, a new Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster is about to be appointed.

The current holder of this rather grandiose title is Mr Justice Lloyd. Essentially, the role entails overseeing the northern circuit of the Chancery Division – not solely Lancashire, as the name might imply. It seems that Judge Lloyd may be set for higher things, and the word on the bench is that Mr Justice Peter Smith is being lined up to replace him.

Until 2002, Judge Smith was a QC in Leeds, where he was known for his aggressive style of advocacy. It appears he has carried this through to the bench, and in London has ruffled a few feathers with his brusque and uncompromising manner – although he has already presided over a phenomenal number of cases in the short space of time since his appointment to the judicial ranks.

As Judge Smith is a Yorkshireman, perhaps the powers that be have decided his talent for straight talking will be best appreciated back on his old stomping ground.

Pavia managing partner does a ‘Cocoon’
Another week, another bust-up in the Italian legal market. The split of Pavia & Ansaldo – one of Italy’s most recognised legal brands – was attributed to a row over international strategy. But the word on the cobbles is that managing partner Marcello Agnoli just didn’t want to give up the top job.

Apparently, the firm’s constitution includes a requirement that the managing partner must stand down when they reach 65. It seems that Agnoli, a sprightly 64-year-old, didn’t want to relinquish his hold on power.

Failing to win the requisite majority to change the constitution, he opted instead to shuffle out, taking a team of up to 70 lawyers with him. The blue-rinse firm will be known as Agnoli Bernardi e Associati. Oldies: one, ageism: nil.