A Swit of a palaver

When the news contains a legal chief, a venerable City institution managing £102bn of assets and what could be the largest sex discrimination payout in British history, the story just writes itself.

And so it is with today’s top news: the failure of F&C Asset Management’s appeal against Gillian Switalski’s £13.4m discrimination claim. See story

If Switalski’s claims have any merit, as two tribunals have so far ruled they do, the victim and villain of this tale aren’t hard to recognise.

But F&C has vowed to fight on, as it “continues to believe that the employment tribunal has misapplied the relevant legal principles.”

Next stage? The Court of Appeal. The saga continues.

Enter the dragon

The firm’s incredibly tall Beijing head, Robert Lewis, unveiled news that a further Chinese firm has signed up to its Sino-Global Legal Alliance, which explained the distinct Chinese flavour of the evening. See story

As well as an abundance of Chinese-themed canapés this included both booming Chinese drums and an all-dancing, all-kicking two-man Chinese dragon.

The Chinese theme was soon lost in a football frenzy, however, with most of the guests huddling in a corner to catch the UEFA Champion’s League final on the super-size telly the firm installed especially.

Most, that is, except for Lovells global head of IP Burkhart Goebel.

Having turned up with a bunch of Spanish journalists in tow, Madrid-based Goebel gave the footie a miss to head out for tapas with his entourage. Leaving more prawn toast for us British hacks.

A night out in Moscow

Don’t try to call Brabners Chaffe Street sports partner Maurice Watkins today, or McDermott Will & Emery UEFA contact partner Alisdair Bell. They’re out of the office at the biggest match of the season so far: the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow.

They won’t be the only lawyers making the pilgrimage. The Lawyer spoke to Man Utd head of legal Patrick Stewart just as he drove past the Kremlin.

“It’s all very surreal,” mused Stewart.

Stewart has no official club business to attend to in the Russian capital so is enjoying the sights. The club has laid on three buses, which are touring Moscow before they return to the hotel for lunch then off to the stadium for the 10.45pm kick off.

The mood in the camp is very upbeat, according to Stewart: “There’s no
reason why we shouldn’t win…other than the small matter of Chelsea.”

He hasn’t met any other lawyers yet, he said, “thankfully”. Possibly because they’re among the 200 odd Chelsea fans stuck at Gatwick airport.

Or because invites are few and far between. Stephen Sampson, head of sport at Hammonds and one of UEFA’s external lawyers said: “It’s not the easiest one to get to. We’ve done a bit of work around the final, like ticketing and rights protection but not really enough to get a trip there.”

Oh well, there’s always the pub.

Walk for justice

Many a London lawyer might appreciate the chance of a word in the ear of the Lord Chief Justice – as equally they might in the ears of justices Barling, Cranston, Dyson, Flaux, Lloyd, Silber, Toulson, Waller, Warren, Wynne or Williams.

Hell, we know we would.

Arguably that might be one of the reasons some 3,500 lawyers from firms including the magic circle firms, Slaughter and May, Weil Gotshal, White & Case and most of the London bar spent an unseasonably cold Monday completing 10km of sponsored walk through London. See story.

Though it could just have been for charity. Thus the genius of the London Legal Support Trust’s annual sponsored walk, a networking event par excellence combined with a fundraiser for southeast legal aid centres, newly impoverished by the government’s legal aid reform.

“Thousands of lawyers and not a billable hour in sight,” quipped organiser Bob Nightingale. But that kind of access? Priceless.

Partners Slaughter associates

There was artillery, a Slaughter and a victor, but no dead.

Yes, the annual Slaughter and May cricket showdown has taken place, the partnership vanquishing the associates by just one ever-so-slightly suspicious single run. See story

The match is an annual event at the Honourable Artillery Company parade ground near Slaughters’ office in the City. And last year – in a clearly symbolic display of associate power – the partners lost.

Naturally, that wasn’t going to happen twice.

“I don’t think any of the partners expected to do well,” corporate finance partner Ian Hodgson told us this afternoon. A surprising conclusion: The Lawyer can reveal that partners had not only attended secret practice sessions at the Oval cricket ground but even signed up ringers from the office catering team.

Taking no chances, partners also saw to it that the match was umpired by two trainees.

“This is a very competitive place where we take competing seriously – they wouldn’t just let us win because they want to get ahead,” protested one partner.

Good Lord, no. That just wouldn’t be cricket.