The Rock wishes upon a star

The Rock wishes upon a star

If one strategy of crisis management involves throwing names at a problem until it goes away, then you’ve got to admire Northern Rock for trying.

If one strategy of crisis management involves throwing names at a problem until it goes away, then you’ve got to admire Northern Rock for trying.

The latest City bigwig to climb aboard what we hope is not a sinking ship is none other than Laurie Adams (see story).

Adams is of legendary renown in the legal market and has held a number of firsts: among them, Citigroup’s first European general counsel and Lehman Brother’s first head of legal and compliance.

As a non-executive director, Adams won’t be giving legal advice per se but it’s hard to ignore the in-house banking clout of his CV.

With activist shareholders sniffing around, litigation against the Rock is a distinct possibility. Shareholder actions like nothing more than to latch onto written advice from law firms, so one can understand the board’s thinking in appointing an experienced banking lawyer on the inside.

We just hope that being a non-executive at the Rock during its first major shareholder action will not appear among Adams’ list of achievements.

My D.I.V.O.R.C.E becomes online today

With divorce becoming cheaper and easier, it’s no surprise that Mills & Reeve has forged ahead with its multi-pronged matrimonial attack.

Following years of poaching and absorbing sizeable private client teams, the firm has now apparently become the first UK law firm to launch and operate a website dedicated to the world of divorce (click here for news article).

Aside from elaborating on the legal elements of a divorce, the site explains what’s involved in a separation, lists what prospective divorcees should take with them to see their solicitors and even provides tips on how to communicate your decision to your partner.

And how timely. With recent high-profile divorcees hogging the front pages – think Britney Spears shaving her hair off and Heather Mills’ lively appearances on national TV – there are people out there who might need some basic advice.

A tale of two judges

Mr Justice Lightman and Lord Justice Parker – two names that strike fear in the hearts of many lawyers.

These two heavyweights have joined Serle Court. (See story)

But that’s not all. Lord Neill of Bladen QC, Serle Court’s very first head of chambers following its merger with One Hare Court in 1999, is on the move to 20 Essex Street – his brother Brian’s chambers.

Lord Neill is a legend at the bar. His star rose high in partnership with Essex Court Chambers’ Gordon Pollock QC on the BCCI trial – an alliance of two stars that did not add up to the sum of its parts. Old school Lord Neill was brought in to anchor Pollock’s arguments but it didn’t quite turn out that way. BCCI judge Mr Justice Tomlinson pointed out in his judgment that Lord Neill made “exceptionally careful and measured submissions” which did not support the points that Pollock made.

It’s a shame we won’t see him team up with Lightman, thought of by many as the last of his maverick kind on the bench. Perhaps Lord Neill has tired of the wingman role.

The judge on the Today programme

Diversity has been the buzzword in the legal world for some time, but access to the legal profession really came under the spotlight today.

Firstly, Lord Neuberger’s long-awaited report into revamping entry requirements for the bar highlighted the need for a “level playing field” when it comes to accessing the bar (see story). Under proposals set out in the wide-ranging report, law would be taught in high schools while all funded pupillage places would have to be filled. Neuberger even got a spot chatting to James Naughtie on the Today programme this morning.

Less likely to be picked up by the national media is a practical scheme which is equally worthy of attention. A raft of City firms pledged to encourage non-Russell Group students into their ranks by offering a summer programme to 100 students every year (see story).

At this rate lawyers might even get some good coverage in the national press.

Dickinson Dees feels the credit crunch

On the day that Virgin emerged as the preferred bidder for Northern Rock, The Lawyer revealed the latest repercussions of the credit crisis at Newcastle’s largest law firm Dickinson Dees (see story).

Northern Rock is one of the biggest clients of Dickinson Dees’ volume mortgages business. Its woes, combined with those at other mortgage brokers, have made the firm lay off 17 staff.

Employees of the bank, on the other hand, may be breathing a slight sigh of relief as Virgin has promised not to make any redundancies.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will be busy creating the legal framework to make sure this happens.

A&O is advising Virgin (and the Bank of England), while Freshfields is advising Northern Rock (having ditched the Bank of England). There is likely to be a few turns in this complex tale yet. We’ll keep you posted.