Barristers spit their dummies

Barristers spit their dummies
Tantrums, hysterics and feet stamping – and that’s just the barristers. The row over the Legal Services Commission’s new contracts is reaching boiling point and if the bar grapevine is to be believed – and it normally is – then we can expect striking barristers on our streets very soon.

Tantrums, hysterics and feet stamping – and that’s just the barristers. The row over the Legal Services Commission’s new contracts is reaching boiling point and if the bar grapevine is to be believed – and it normally is – then we can expect striking barristers on our streets very soon. See story

All we can hope for is that they’ll march on Westminster, wielding placards in wigs.

But maybe their children will be able to bring some decorum to the Inns if barristers at 39 Essex Street have anything to do with it.

A trio of female barristers at the set, with support from their head of chambers Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, have launched the Bar Nursery Association to lobby for a creche at one of the Inns of Court. See story

But where to put it? Probably not in the libraries as it could cause more than one lawyer to lose concentration. Gray’s Inn has a Spy Room, which is sure to catch the kids’ imaginations, but it hosts some terribly important Bar Council meetings.

And since the summer’s ban kicked in, the old smoking rooms are just sitting there empty. The lingering odour may put a few parents off. So, where? Ideas Welcome.

Fancy a cuppa?
It’s the last day of January, and it looked as if nothing big was going to happen. Let’s face it, the news that Mark Dawkins has been re-elected managing partner of Simmons & Simmons when nobody stood against him is hardly going to set the world alight.

Nor was the news that a US firm, Brown, er, Rudnick, decided it was about time it made some Brits up to its partnership, 10 years after launching in the capital.

No, the biggest news of the day was this: a survey which reveals that lawyers drink more tea than those in any other profession, including builders. It’s already generating furious debate on

That lawyers drink so much was surprising. That a Yorkshireman then admitted that he didn’t drink tea at all was astonishing. (The Yorkshireman in question has begged to remain anonymous but we can reveal he works in a magic circle firm.)

Meanwhile, a real Yorkshireman, who lives and works in Yorkshire, comments: “In Yorkshire anything less than 10 cups per day doesn’t count.” Hear, hear.

New Freshfields at old Labour
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s press shindig went off in fine style last night, held in the panoramic splendour of the 29th floor of London’s Millbank Tower.

That’s right, the old Labour Party HQ.

Less champagne socialism, more plain champagne, the event did nonetheless have a certain New Labour, 1997-kind of feel. There were plenty of people in suits feeling pleased with themselves, for a start.

Factor in the DJ and saxophonist, late-90s trip hop-style mood music and you’ve got a little bit of Cool Britannia in there too.

And then of course there was the keynote speech by joint senior partner Guy Morton.

All very moral, the speech heralded what the firm says is a unique, externally-assured commitment to corporate social responsibility covering everything from conflicts to diversity, climate change and pro bono; and which not unreasonably implied makes them a far nicer bunch than their nasty-party opposition. Read that and weep, Linklaters. See story.

Of course, one key difference between New Labour and Freshfields did stand out. Unlike Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Guy Morton and Konstantin Mettenheimer have always agreed to share the top job.


Nigel Knowles has thrown a sheep at you!

OK, OK we’ll get to the point: DLA Piper has launched a Facebook-style networking site for future trainees. See story.

For those unfamiliar with such Generation-Y concepts, Facebook is an online phenomenon in which teenagers and David Cameron trade esoteric salutations, photos and gossip, and is quite the latest thing in parental bemusement and peer humiliation.

Keen to ride the wave, DLA’s own social networking site, “Inside the Tent”, allows future trainees to spend time getting to know the colleagues with whom they are shortly to spend their dwindling youth.

Not all fun and games, however, it also allows DLA’s graduate recruitment team to communicate more easily with its future proteges, and to boost its green credentials by dispensing with the need for paper-based mail-shots.

Whether DLA’s in-house Facebook banter will be quite as irreverent as the real thing is anyone’s guess.

But as former US president Lyndon Johnson might have put it, it’s better to have them inside the tent p***ing out than outside the tent p***ing in.

Looking for winter sun deals
A quick glance at last week’s completed M&A deals sees Carlsberg and Heineken’s joint acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) towering over the rest, which are, frankly, rather small in comparison.

The saga has kept Linklaters’ Matthew Middleditch busy throughout this early credit crunch period as the S&N team manfully wangled another £700m for shareholders. See story.

The next biggest deal to complete last week was the £135m acquisition of a bunch of Portuguese resorts by UK hoteliers JJW, which was advised by CMS Cameron McKenna. After that, Olswang and Withers worked on the sale of a minority stake in Soho House for about £100m, and then you had a series of sub-£100m deals.

Mid-market firms have been claiming little concern about the credit crunch, as it will only hit big private equity deals, they claim. But on last week’s evidence they ought to be afraid.

It was difficult to get excited about today’s news that Clifford Chance will launch in Abu Dhabi. There have been so many Middle East launches of late. See story. But it is more evidence of firms looking to new jurisdictions in a bid to find a warmer economic climate. Expect others to follow suit.