Clifford Chance‘s arduous lockstep consultation looks like dragging on for a while yet, with dreams of having a partner vote by the summer fading fast. The remuneration review group, led by real estate head Cliff McAuley, is still ironing out proposals with senior management more than three months after the latest lockstep debate kicked off.

It is understood the group has encountered a worrying degree of intransigence on the subject, ensuring that progress has been slow. It seems that partners are needing more time to get used to the idea of lockstep reform, or, as one put it, “more soak time”.

But no amount of marinating will get some partners over the biggest hurdle – to think altruistically. One source close to the consultation said: “The real challenge is to get people not just to think about themselves.” But some partners are dead against wading in, pouring scorn on the soak. One said: “If this is bad for me, I’m outta here. I’ve got three firms – two US and one UK – on my speed dial. You have to have a plan B.”

MP makes QC

The first new QC of 2005 has been appointed. But don’t get too excited. The brand new silk has not gone through the new selection process. He’s not even a barrister. He used to be a solicitor, but hasn’t practised for more than a decade. The title has been bestowed upon the new Solicitor-General, Mike O’Brien MP.

According to the Government, it is “the practice that the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General are appointed Queen’s Counsel if they do not already hold this rank on appointment”.

So who is O’Brien? He spent five years in practice after a stint teaching law at the Colchester College of Further and Higher Education. In 1992 he became MP for Warwickshire North and has recently held various ministerial roles.

O’Brien is lucky: he didn’t have to fulfil the requirements of the new selection process to be appointed, or have to wait for the competition to start. Meanwhile, for those practising lawyers looking to take silk, the wait goes on. And on.

Bankruptcy sharks circle Germany

The promise of a deepening German recession has at least one group of professionals smacking its chops with excitement. US crisis advisory firms are piling into Germany and waiting for what many believe is an inevitable descent into bankruptcy for many German corporates. Major advisers such as Alvarez & Marsal and Kroll are in Germany awaiting the big bust, and where the crisis advisory firms go, lawyers are sure to follow.

Chicago giant Kirkland & Ellis launched its Munich operation just months ago with the hire of Clifford Chance private equity star Volker Kullman, and is already looking to secure high-end restructuring expertise in Germany. London star Lyndon Norley is closely examining the prospect of major restructuring hires and is visiting Germany in the coming weeks to get to know some potential recruits a little bit better. Bankruptcy: it’s a beautiful thing, for lawyers at least.

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