Lawyers who rock

Lawyers who rock
The appointment of Chris Saul as Slaughter and May’s senior partner has set tongues wagging in the legal market. Not least when he declared in his first interview as managing partner: “I want to make sure we have fun.”

The appointment of Chris Saul as Slaughter and May‘s senior partner has set tongues wagging in the legal market. Not least when he declared in his first interview as managing partner: “I want to make sure we have fun.”

This month’s edition of The Lawyer Podcast is now live. You can listen to Saul expand on his philosophy: “I really believe that you can combine hard-ish work with going to a lot of gigs. And I think that’s important.”

Saul also reveals the best gigs of 2007.

The action then switches to the Hot 100 party, which was held at The Royal Exchange last Tuesday (22 January). A handful of movers and shakers were asked for their predictions for 2008.

The champagne was flowing freely. Find out who labeled himself “old and ugly”, who predicted an exodus of US firms from London and who is expecting a “legal equivalent of Facebook”.

Finally, you can hear the Masters of Inner and Middle Temple, Vivian Robinson QC and Paul Darling QC, encouraging small children to get on down at the Temple festival.

Power suits, shoulderpads and mullets
Ever get the feeling you’re living in the ’80s? The markets have gone nuts, there’s a war in Afghanistan and, more importantly, insider trading and negligence have made a comeback (allegedly). It’s like the movie Wall Street all over again.

Barely a week after the resignation of Berwin Leighton Paisner real estate star Vinay Veneik, former TTP Communications and Thomas Cook general counsel Christopher McQuoid appeared in court charged with insider trading. (see story)

He has been accused of profiting from insider information by buying shares in TTP before its merger with Motorola. He pleaded not guilty.

McQuoid appeared with his father-in-law, James William Melbourne. Presumably Michael Douglas will play that role when the film version comes out.

The only thing that’s missing from this picture is a return to power suits, huge shoulderpads and dodgy mullets.

Hot gossip
How many senior lawyers can you get in a room? Hundreds, if it’s a cold night in January.

There was plenty of laughter and glass-chinking at The Lawyer’s Hot 100 party at the Royal Exchange last night, but also some serious talk about where the market was going. The private equity partners looked particularly gloomy and the banking partners came early and stayed late.

One of the nicest moments was when Clifford Chance‘s senior partner Stuart Popham congratulated Chris Saul on his accession to the same role at Slaughter and May. Popham dropped in following his Asia jaunt with Gordon Brown and had to leave the party for a flight to Davos.

Ever the gentleman, Popham found time to give Saul a couple of handy hints on the top job, none of them concerning the dangers of deep vein thrombosis.

But the question we’re all asking is this. Which magic circle partner got an almighty slap in the face from a frisky silver circler? And which general counsel was last seen surfing down the stairs? Sod the credit crunch, eh?

The silk selection

There are some bright, young things on this year’s silks list including Essex Court duo Alan Lowe and Toby Landau and Four New Square’s Graeme McPherson, who were called to the bar in 1993.

But one new QC has a bit more experience. He was called in 1971 and 37 years on, Brian Lett of 2 Paper Buildings has made it…actually that should be Brian Lett QC.

Lett is the longest serving barrister to get the nod on today’s silk list. But why did he finally decide to apply for the prestigious accolade so far into his career?

Lett said: “Having done silk work for years it just seems sensible. Why not have the kudos if you do the work?”

Quite right.

“I reached around 20 years call while at Three King’s Bench Walk, now QEB Hollis Whiteman, when I was told that I could be considered for silk but for family reasons my wife and I decided that we should move to the west country,” explained Lett.

His move to Taunton, where he set up his own chambers, put paid to his ambition of becoming a silk. “But after 10 years on the Western circuit and most of the kids gone we thought it was time to come back to the City,” Lett continued.

That was just over four years ago and having re-planted his flag firmly in London, Lett has got his hands on that coveted kite-mark.

For more on the barristers who made silk today, see Monday’s edition of The Lawyer.

QC or not QC?

Finally, a month later than expected, this year’s list of new QCs will be released officially tomorrow. We’ve had a sneak preview but we’re sworn to secrecy.

We can tell you that today, 333 barristers have received letters through the post informing them whether or not they have received the royal stamp of approval on their careers to date.

Last time round, barristers and clerks celebrated a bumper crop of 175 because of the three-year gap while the Department of Constitutional Affairs (RIP) got its act together. This year that’s been normalised.

Around 100 barristers will be taking silk, not on Maundy Thursday, which falls on 20 March this year, but on 28 March. Perhaps that too can be normalised next year.

So who are the newbies on silk street? We’ll have it on the site for you first thing in the morning.