Popularity rising

Popularity rising
The papers are having a field day on the Mosley, spanking and privacy case, but even we were surprised at the Daily Mail’s decision to devote an entire double page spread trying to find something bad to say about Mr Justice Eady.

The papers are having a field day on the Mosley, spanking and privacy case, but even we were surprised at the Daily Mail’s decision to devote an entire double page spread trying to find something bad to say about Mr Justice Eady.

Still, there’s another winner: Steeles Law, which acted for the F1 boss.

Not heard of it? It’s a GBP9m turnover firm based in East Anglia and London whose most famous client up until now has been Al Jazeera.

Firms in the lower half of the Lawyer UK200 are suddenly becoming rather popular with midsize practices keen to bolt on capability. As we report in The Lawyer on Monday, DAC – which took over KSB Law this January – is going public on wanting to do just another sort of deal. And they’re not alone: we know of plenty of other City firms out scouting for tie-ups in this bracket.

Bevan Brittan isn’t one of them, though.

As we reveal today, the Bristol-headquartered firm is exporting its own brand of West Country turmoil to its Birmingham outpost, with the redundancy of the current office head. See story

Meanwhile, don’t miss your bumper 80-page copy of The Lawyer on Monday. Not only more analysis of the Bevan Brittan debacle, but a profile of the tireless Ralph Baxter (what makes him tick, we wonder?), and a mighty special report into the offshore market.
Plus: who’s persuading whom to move east?

Unhappy Birthday

Few birthdays end in litigation. Weddings? Yes. Deaths? Certainly.  But birthdays aren’t meant to turn out this way.

Baker & McKenzie got some pretty bad PR when an Edinburgh couple claimed the firm were suing them over a birthday present they bought for their 11-year-old son. The trouble was that the gift – the domain name narnia.mobi – belonged to the CS Lewis Company, according to their lawyers at Bakers.

This was an IP battle that really got the pulses racing as you can see from our readers’ comments here.

The debate centred on whether Gillian Ferguson and Richard Saville-Smith really did buy the domain name for their son or whether they were just out to make a fast buck.

Now, they have lost their case at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). (See story)

The case played out acrimoniously in the WIPO court, with accusations flying on both sides. Bakers has prevailed, but still the couple refuses to admit defeat.

Ferguson said: “Baker & McKenzie certainly knew, even as they were making their accusations, that they were not true – and that is a matter for their own conscience: we can certainly sleep easy.”

After today’s judgment, it’s doubtful that the Bakers team will be popping sleeping pills. They’re more likely to be quaffing champagne.

Having kept so quiet throughout the furore, Bakers diplomatically refused to engage in any form of triumphalism. But it did point us towards the judgment, which, apparently, says it all.

Glaxo’s Trojan Horse

As fans of the classics and/or Brad Pitt movies know, the Siege of Troy ended when the Trojans accepted a battle tribute that was actually a trap set by their foes, the Achaeans.

But with the hire of Sidley Austin life sciences partner Daniel Troy as its new general counsel, GlaxoSmithKline is attempting the opposite manoeuvre.

As reported on TheLawyer.com today,Troy will join GSK in September as its top lawyer, replacing Rupert Bondy who left for energy giant BP in May.

And before joining Sidley in 2004, of course, Troy was chief counsel for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for three years.

That’s right: the very same FDA that regulates the biggest pharmaceuticals market in the world. And the very same FDA that in April sent a letter to GSK to warn the company that its drug reporting standards were not up to scratch.

Troy’s new role, then, will doubtless include patching things up between his new employer and his FDA buddies threatening to lay siege to the business.

Not unlike the Trojan Horse. Only this time the horse will be working for the Trojans.

Insult to injury

Ladies and gentlemen, here is a first.

Claimant and defendant insurance lawyers are actually agreeing on something. (Well, tentatively.)

As we report today, the insurance legal community is reacting to the Ministry of Justice’s plans to reform the personal injury claims process.

Claimant lawyers are usually at loggerheads with their defendant insurance counterparts, with the Association of British Insurers regularly claiming that 40p in every £1 of compensation pays legal costs – a figure hotly disputed by claimant lawyers.

But the public slanging match stopped last year when everyone recognized that reform was essential to ensure speedier delivery of compensation to claimants, which would result in lower legal costs.

Both sides were deeply entrenched in their proposals.

The claimant lawyers, led by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, wanted greater provision for rehabilitation.

The defendant lawyers, led by the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, wanted to drive out referral fees from the system.

But both sides agree that the MoJ reforms are a dud. 

Though guess what? The claims management companies disagree. Oh, brave new world…

BlackBerry jam

A stern directive from management is rarely welcome at the best of times, still less as you set off on holiday, but for associates at Linklaters this summer that might not be the case.

In a move untypical of City law firms, the magic circle giant is so concerned its juniors might not completely relax on their holidays that it has forbidden them from taking their BlackBerrys.

Under the irresistible pressure of The Lawyer interview, one partner admitted that actually, despite the management directive, “a total communication black-out couldn’t work.”

Or in other words, “forget your BlackBerry, we’ll just call you instead.”

Or are we just cynics? Is the management mandate really an HR gimmick to get the recruitment edge on the competition?