S F Oh

S F Oh
The Serious Fraud Office might have considered forgetting the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the NHS" on the indictment against pharmaceutical giant Goldshield only a slight hiccup, but it could cost the taxpayer an estimated £40m.

The Serious Fraud Office might have considered forgetting the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the NHS" on the indictment against pharmaceutical giant Goldshield only a slight hiccup, but it could cost the taxpayer an estimated £40m.

SFO director Richard Alderman will have his head in his hands over the court’s refusal to let the indictment be changed, as his first three months in the job have already been a rollercoaster of a ride.

And due to the costs involved, Goldshield has to be Alderman’s darkest hour yet.

Chasing £400m on behalf of the nation’s sick is a laudable task, but the £40m blown if the SFO’s appeal fails could have paid for 105 intensive care beds for a year, given 1,300 breast cancer patients Herceptin or paid the salaries of 1,600 nurses.

While Goldshield and its advisors, Jones Day, will spend the weekend celebrating, the SFO will be be hard at work on its appeal tactics.

Teenage kicked

What timing!

Barely a day after a teenager admits stealing thousand of pounds from Freshfields, The Law Society is crowing about how well law firms are tackling money laundering.

OK, so letting your expense cheques be stolen isn’t quite the same as being exposed to money laundering, but it doesn’t inspire confidence that City firms are totally watertight on the cash flow.

And getting ripped off for £60,000 by a 16-year old on a week’s work experience? Well that’s just embarrassing.

Still, the Law Society wasn’t referring to Freshfields specifically, even if the timing of its release is nonetheless unfortunate.

And for all that Freshfields might be red-faced about the theft, taking on the workie in the first place was a benevolent act, stemming from its involvement with a group dedicated to promoting people from non-traditional backgrounds in the law.

So are Freshfields partners just a bunch of nice-guy suckers? Or should people earning an average £1.4m avoid having a teenager locked up for stealing £60k? Join the debate here.

Latham’s Middle East coup

Most managing partners sweat blood trying to transfer just one lawyer to an overseas office.

Yet as The Lawyer revealed yesterday, Latham & Watkins is able to relocate no fewer than five partners to the Middle East and two partners to London, with not a peep of dissent out of them (see story).

As mass moves go, this is pretty flamboyant. As if opening three offices simultaneously in the Middle East wasn’t enough, Latham is slowly shifting its centre of gravity eastwards, and the battle with the magic circle begins here.

And not just with the magic circle; US firms have simply never bulked up in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Dohar in this way before.

US firms tend to focus more on Saudi, but alliances with local firms there can be fragile. (Don’t miss The Lawyer on Monday for a full analysis of the Saudi market.)

Latham’s dramatic move is clear evidence that it is going head to head with White & Case for Middle East dominance, and at the same time stealing a march on the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell and Cleary Gottlieb for high-end mandates.

Something for a rainy day

A cheering thought on a rainy day: legal graduates are the best paid around.

The news that they are out-earning even investment bankers is a consoling thought for young lawyers in these credit crunchy times – even if as one graduate recruitment head predicts, it won’t last for long.

But to discover whether you’re getting as much as you might, see our handy salary index.

Meanwhile there’s extra good news for Charlie Falconer, who is joining Gibson Dunn – no doubt for considerably more than a trainee salary.

King gone

Shearman & Sterling has been an unhappy ship for a long time.

When we reported on its course in May 2008, one recruitment consultant went so far as to call it a “tragedy”.

Adding to Shearmans’ woes this morning is the loss of London head of corporate Peter King, who is off to join Weil Gotshal & Manges (see story).

King was one of the last big names in Shearman’s London corporate practice, whose alumni includes Jonathan Coppin and Adrian Knight.

In Germany, the firm also lost serious corporate capacity in January when Rolf Koerfer went to Allen & Overy. Oh, and the entire Manheim office of 30 quit at once in April.

“The last man to go should turn the lights off,” quipped one magic circle corporate partner about King’s departure today.

While Shearman still commands respect for its traditionally strong finance practice in the US, it needs desperately to tool up in corporate.

Something Weil Gotshal has done quite nicely.