Each week as we count down ;to ;The ;Lawyer Awards 2008, we will take a look at some previous winners and see how their careers have progressed.
Management Team of the YearIn 2003 Clifford Chance began to come out from under the storm clouds of ‘Paddinggate’ – the infamous US associate memo leaked in October 2002 which revealed that morale in New York had plummeted.
Newly appointed managing partner Peter Cornell brought ;together ;the management team and steered Clifford Chance through a political nightmare that insiders had feared might sink the magic circle firm.
In May 2006 Cornell relinquished the managing partner position and at the end of 2006 resigned from the firm. In October 2007 he joined private equity firm Terra Firma’s management team to act as a liaison for Terra Firma’s investors, regulators, the Government and the media.
In-house Media & Communications Team of the Year2003 was a particularly strong year for this category as the technology, media and telecoms sector emerged from the gloom of the dotcom bust and the awards seem to have been good for the careers of the team leaders, all but one of whom have moved on to pastures new.
On 3/3/03, 3 became the first mobile operator to launch a third-generation service, helping it win this category. General counsel Paul Vickers built 3’s legal function to a team of 15 by the time of his departure in late 2006. The company had decided against listing on the stock exchange and its need for a heavyweight general counsel had diminished. Vickers, along with 102 staff at the company, was made redundant.
In July 2007, he re-emerged as general counsel of publishing company Mecom. The 3 legal team is now run by Stephen Lerner. NTL finished second in this category and UK legal director Robert Mackenzie is the only legal chief in this category who remains in situ, albeit at Virgin Media, which has since acquired NTL.
David Melville led Freeserve’s team to third place and he also scooped the In-house Lawyer of the Year award. Melville went on to become head of legal and regulatory affairs at Freeserve’s parent company Wanadoo International before leaving in early 2006 to become Amazon’s UK legal director.
The other two nominees, Philip Bramwell of MMO2 and Julia Chain of T-Mobile, have also moved on, with Bramwell joining BAE Systems and Chain launching her own consultancy Kite, which just last week merged with Alan Hodgart’s H4 Consulting.
Associate of the YearCadwalader Wickersham & Taft’s Simon Norris was awarded first place for negotiating the redevelopment of Mozambique’s Maputo Port, creating thousands of jobs. Norris left the firm in February 2006, along with former projects head Paul Biggs, to launch Trinity International, a niche firm which focuses on deals in emerging countries. Trinity has since hooked up with US firm Nixon Peabody.
Runner-up Michael Kim left Richards Butler in January 2005 to take up a partnership position in DLA Piper‘s marine group.
Mark Blois, who took third place, remains with his firm Browne Jacobson and ;was ;promoted ;to partner in 2006, while runner-up Suzanne Dibble left DLA Piper after nine years to join ITV’s legal department. In January she was appointed legal director of national estate agency Hamptons.
Partner of the YearThe winner, Ashurst Morris Crisp’s Erica Handling, overcame collapsed merger talks with Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson to salvage a working relationship with her counterpart Laurence Isaacson who has since left Fried Frank to join McKee Nelson in New York.
In second place was Nick Holt of KLegal, who quit the firm at the end of 2003 to become a successful headhunter.
Eversheds firmwide managing partner David Ansbro retired in 2003 after running the UK and European operations for three years.
Nominee David Cheyne of Linklaters has risen to the top after being appointed senior partner last year, while his counterpart at Herbert Smith, David Gold, was also shortlisted in 2003 for his litigation prowess.
Law Firm of the YearHerbert Smith scooped this accolade after the firm overcame the sceptics to transform itself into a fully-fledged litigation and corporate practice.
Since then, average profit per equity partner has risen from £748,000 in 2003 to £1.02m this year.