Fair enough

Here at The Lawyer tea and chocolate are a way of life, so an excuse to pen a few words on our favourite pastimes was welcome.

Enter Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual event to promote the Fairtrade labelling scheme.

A leg-up to the world’s poorest farmers or a wilful distortion of market economics, depending on your point of view, the Fairtrade scheme adds a social-investment premium to the price of labelled products to benefit the dirt poor producers of low-priced ‘cash crop’ commodities.

But then of course you knew that.

Norton Rose certainly does. Not only are the firm’s chocolate and hot drinks all Fairtrade-stamped, even the cups and cotton napkins have the Fairtrade mark of approval. Hell, so does the canteen rice.

Not to be outdone, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, still riding the PR wave of being the world’s first ever law firms to publish an externally-approved CSR report, has a ‘showcase table’ in the restaurant decked with chocolate and snacks, and has upped the Fairtrade-count on the canteen menu. In your face again, Linklaters!

Hell, even the most un-PC of managing partners we spoke to says his firm uses a brand of Fairtrade tea. Even if he personally does think “it’s horrible”.

Find out what other firms are doing here.

The David and Wim show
Last time out they were pitched in to battle against each other for the vacant managing partner role, but the former foes have been united. And following their election victory, which was confirmed late last night, the new managing partner and senior partner of Allen & Overy were all smiles during their first joint interview with the press.

Managing partner elect Wim Dejonghe said: “My predecessor was a pretty decent guy – he knew what he was doing.”

We’re not sure if he proffered a cheeky wink to his predecessor David Morley, the firm’s new senior partner, but the pair were certainly feeling affectionate towards one another.

Which is a good thing. Belgian Wim will be moving from his home in Antwerp to London soon, to be closer to David. And they’ll be working together every day for the next five years, in sickness and in health, till vote do them part.

The firm was on tenterhooks yesterday and forced the independent election auditors to work late to get the results in – by 6pm. It’s understood that no late night taxis were required.

David, for his part, was equally affectionate towards Wim. The new senior partner says he expects “confidence and adventure” from his future with Wim, who he insists is “still a very young guy”, despite having celebrated his birthday yesterday.

Sounds like a match made in heaven. Bless.

Not so happy Halliwells

After three years of buoyancy, Halliwells is coming down to earth. It has launched a redundancy consultation process across its London-based corporate team, as a result of the group lagging behind budget.

It is understood that seven or eight solicitors and support staff are likely to follow the departures of head of corporate Julian Lewis and partner Martin Walsh. See story.

In trying to establish its presence in the capital, the firm faces the same quandary as some of its national counterparts – how to balance an identity and client base forged in the regions with the expense and rampant competition for London’s rainmakers.

The official story? That Halliwells retains its commitment to the City. Indeed, managing partner Ian Austin is saying that growth will continue and that London has “good earnings and high potential”.

Austin is clearly a glass half-full kinda guy. He’ll be crossing his fingers that earnings really are tip-top if the firm is to make up for the fall-off of major insurance clients such as Norwich Union and the loss of lawyers to regional rivals.

Shiny new HQs, such as the ones the firm took over at Spinningfields in central Manchester last year, may look good for branding, but there are an awful lot of attendant costs.

What price national expansion now?

Clifford Chance on the buses
Forget the Speaker of the House of Commons. It seems an even bigger expenses row has emerged at Clifford Chance.

Elusive Clifford Chance London managing partner Jeremy Sandelson has turned into a big stern scary man while simultaneously skewering all positive predictions for the firm’s end-of-year financial results.

It seems that paying for everyone’s taxis home late at night has been hitting his and fellow partners’ wallets quite hard in these “quieter times”, he wrote yesterday afternoon in an email to all London staff. See story.

Apparently, taxi use has in recent times “risen to unacceptable levels”.

After initially blaming those dastardly folk at the Revenue, Sandelson then went in for the killer blow. “Reports have come to my attention,” he declared, “of people going out socialising and then returning to the office to get a taxi or simply hanging around the office until they can get a ‘free’ taxi home.”

“It appears,” wrote Sandelson, “that a small minority may be taking advantage of the system.”

That’s right, Jeremy. We’re sure everyone would much prefer to hang around the office for hours instead of going home, just for a fabulous opportunity to sit in a cab.

And if Clifford Chance didn’t want to spend money on taxis, why on earth did it move to Canary Wharf?

Inside the Slaughter and May machine
The shake-up of Slaughter and May’s management committee is all but complete (see story). But while the personalities have changed, there is very little else being shaken up. This is a slickly run machine.

Paul Olney and Graham White are to take on the practice partner and executive partner roles respectively. The pair will work alongside senior partner elect Chris Saul – the man who has pledged to put the fun back into the law – but, unsurprisingly, neither plans to revolutionise their new role. And neither, so far, has talked about fun, oddly.

While Saul wants to highlight the ‘lighter side’ of the law, ultimately he plans to continue the job currently being done by incumbent Tim Clark. Same goes for Olney and White.

“The role will not be very different from the role that David Frank has had as practice partner,” said Olney. “There is nothing I’ll need to do immediately I take over – I will continue the job Melvyn Hughes has been doing,” added White.

Perhaps Saul’s yet-to-be-announced successor as head of corporate will manage to shake things up just a little. But don’t bet on it.