Popham and the PM

Popham and the PM
Let us just take a moment to applaud Stuart Popham, the delightful senior partner of Clifford Chance.

Let us just take a moment to applaud Stuart Popham, the delightful senior partner of Clifford Chance. While some law firm bosses have difficulty enough working a room, Popham is working a planeful of British business leaders – oh, and the Prime Minister – on a trade trip to China and India.

China and India? They wouldn’t happen to be two jurisdictions explicitly targeted by Clifford Chance, would they? What’s more, Popham’s the only lawyer on the trip. Awesome. At this rate he may yet beat his predecessor Keith Clark to that knighthood.

In fact, Popham has been hanging out with Gordon Brown for quite a while now, busy cementing Clifford Chance’s position in the establishment.

Contrast with Slaughter and May‘s equally delightful new senior partner Chris Saul, who likes nothing better than to hang out at Glastonbury Festival. How the world has changed…

Only at Slaughters

Chris Saul, the new senior partner of Slaughter and May, has revealed his secret plan for the City’s bluest of blue-chip firms.

Slaughter and May is going to merge with all of its best friends while simultaneously de-equitising half its partnership and outsourcing the rest to Taiwan.


Don’t think for one moment that Saul is going to deviate from the strategy developed by his predecessor Tim Clark.

No, his secret plan is this: to “have fun”. As he puts it, “the serious business of the law needs to have its lighter moments.” See story.

What a relief. A newly-elected law firm leader who doesn’t talk about global capital flows, alignment or people being the law’s best asset.

No wonder he got elected.

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A falling star

The real estate sector is still reeling with the news of BLP partner Vinay Veneik’s shock resignation, over allegations that he covered up mistakes he had made on deals. See story

Veneik, who had built up a glittering 16-year career working with clients such as Great Portland Estates and Legal & General, was known as a talented and aggressive deal-maker.

Former colleagues expressed surprise over BLP’s claims that he had omitted to pay stamp duty and register the transfer of property.

It is astonishing that BLP has released this story and even more astonishing that Veneik would give his consent, which according to BLP’s spinmeisters, he has.

But with the real estate market entering what may be a prolonged slump, perhaps Veneik just thought it was time to put his feet up.

Clifford Chance’s middle aged pensioners

With the bulk of the UK’s working population, male and female, now facing a retirement age of 68, all most of us have to look forward to is decades more of near-endless graft.

Not so for those Clifford Chance partners lucky enough to have been made up before October 2005.

Spurred into action by the post-Bloxham era, the firm has revamped its early retirement annuity package, effectively paving the way for far greater numbers of partners to claim the pension. See story.

Clearly there are issues with a system designed to get partners out the door as soon as a smattering of grey hair begins to resemble a crown. But removing the reference to age opens up a world of opportunity to those seeking a seriously early exit.

Effectively, with partners now able to retire after 15 years in the position, the new terms could see some bidding their farewells in their early to mid 40s. Which would leave time to embark on a whole new 25-year career so that they can retire at the same age as the rest of us.

The year of living dangerously

Q. What do Equatorial Guinea, Wembley Stadium and Hammonds have in common?

A. They all feature in The Lawyer’s top trials of 2008.

Last year’s feature on the top trials of 2007 was one of the most-read articles on TheLawyer.com. This year’s version is also essential reading.

Hammonds seems to be keeping everyone guessing in its dispute with a group of former partners. One minute it is rattling the sabre, declaring that it will take this all the way to court. The next, it is in settlement negotiations. It’s nailbiting stuff.

Hammonds v Danilunas & Ors is just one of 10 cases that will keep litigators very busy this year. We will keep you posted on all of them as they progress.