Taylor Wessing gets a steamrollering

As the saying goes, it’s easy to mock – so we will.

Poor old Taylor Wessing. It spends six months working on a strategy, then comes up with basically the same thing it had before. The biggest change, bar a long-expected confirmation of a European rollout, is a new definition of its values. Everyone talks about values and diversity these days, terrified that they might offend somebody. It’s clearly a worthwhile exercise, nobody would argue with that. So it’s a shame that when law firms, corporates and institutions of all kinds attempt to put down on paper what they hope their staff should already know, it sounds so unfeasibly lame.

Enter ‘esteams’. Apparently, it stands for ‘excellence’, ‘service’, ‘teamwork’, ‘enjoyment’, ‘accountability’, ‘mutual respect’ and ‘stewardship’. Whoever came up with that beauty should be taken away and slapped round the head with a parrot. Not a fish, you understand. That’s diversity.

Licking lockstep

The highlight of Clifford Chance‘s partnership retreat last year was probably the moment in the bar when one prominent London partner expressed full and frank views on the California practice to Tower Snow.

With the US practice turning in disappointing figures this year, the management must have been worried about hawkish London partners confronting their New York colleagues again. But no. All was sweetness and light. “The American partners probably came very apprehensive, but everyone was extremely supportive,” confides one insider.

Childs and Cornell both had good reviews for their presentations, but the star was Clifford Chance favourite Jack Gabarro of Harvard Business School. He’s done plenty of work with the firm before, but you have to wonder whether his speech was programmed beforehand. His message? None of the “world-class, worldwide” firms that Clifford Chance should be emulating, such as McKinsey or Goldman, has a tiered lockstep. “I think the penny’s dropping,” smirks a partner. Even the most entrenched Clifford Chance backwoodsman couldn’t have missed that one.

My little Tony becomes private equity lawyers’ crony

Tony Blair may not be the biggest friend of private equity, or indeed of lawyers in general, but he is certainly turning out to be quite a friend to private equity lawyers.

The private equity sector, which has had an easy ride in the UK, is under fire on two fronts. Nobody can say how much impact the Pensions Bill will have until it takes effect next month, but at a very minimum there will be the hassle of negotiating pensions liabilities with the new regulator on a case-by-case basis.

Last week the Inland Revenue also abolished tax relief on interest, previously hugely beneficial to the industry, because private equity deals tend to be highly leveraged. In a candid moment, one high-profile private equity lawyer admits that the changes will do little more than level the playing field between private equity and trade buyers.

Ignore the scaremongering – private equity houses are not going to stop doing deals, they have too much money to spend. But what the Government has done will put a few extra quid the way of the lawyers and accountants who must try to find a way around the new rules.Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every Wednesday by subscribing to Lawyer News Weekly. Register at