19-Oct 2007
Reed Smith finally lures Richards Butler HK

Reed Smith’s firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan was jubilant yesterday after finally tying up a deal with the Hong Kong office of Richards Butler (see story).

19-Oct 2007
Reed Smith finally lures Richards Butler HK

Reed Smith’s firmwide managing partner Greg Jordan was jubilant yesterday after finally tying up a deal with the Hong Kong office of Richards Butler (see story).

The Asian office operated as a separate entity to the firm’s UK headquarters, which merged with Reed Smith in January. Hong Kong had been kept in the dark about the original merger after it had scuppered previous deals for Richards Butler UK.

Hong Kong had to be convinced of the financial benefits of a US merger. However, having seen the happiness that has endured following the UK-US marriage, it realised what thoroughly good chaps the Reed Smith clan are and, no doubt, negotiated a tidy signing-on deal. Thankfully everybody can be buddies again.

The Lawyer can reveal that the jubilation extended to London and reached an almost unbearable pitch at the firm’s annual PiggyBankKids Quiz, hosted at Bafta’s HQ by Reed Smith partner David Boutcher. The atmosphere was electric as Reed Smith teams battled it out with teams from Matrix Chambers, L’Oreal, KPMG and the BBC, which was also celebrating news that its legal department would escape the axe Aunty is wielding over other parts of the organisation (see story).

But class won out. The victors were Tulkinghorn’s Finest, a crack team of quizmeisters from The Lawyer, plus Reed Smith partner Tim Foster and associate Sarah Hooker. Our second successive victory revealed our knowledge of general trivia is even better than you lawyers’.

18-Oct 2007
Is Nixon wholly Trinity?

US firm Nixon Peabody has entered the UK market with the most baffling link-up in living memory (see story).

Now, pay attention, this could get confusing. The US firm was launched in 1999 through a merger of a firm called Nixon Something from Rochester and another called Peabody Something else from Boston.

Since 2005, it has been plotting an assault on the UK market. It has taken time because, as an insider told us: “We don’t want a ‘one man and his dog’ operation.”

Well, Nixon Peabody has found three men. We’re not sure if any of them has a dog.

The three men in question are former Cadwalader and Camerons partner Paul Biggs and his team at project finance boutique Trinity. They’re even younger than their new buddies. They just launched in February 2006.

Nixon Peabody is not known for many things, but where it is known it tends to be for IP, private equity and litigation. It also does a bit of project finance: hence, the link with Biggs and his boys.

But what is the link? Trinity will continue to operate as a firm in its own right, but the partners will join the Nixon Peabody partnership. So where does the cash go? Well, it depends on whose client it is apparently.

“It’s kinda complex but it’s really not,” explained new London managing partner Stavros Adamides.

Biggs and co can continue to do their African infrastructure work, which is billed to Trinity, and can help out Nixon with a bit of general finance work in their spare time.

Sounds like a win-win deal. Honest.

17-Oct 2007
Only one man for the Dewey & LeBoeuf job

There’s a wind of change blowing through the London offices of US firms, and it’s carrying tumbleweed with it in the case of Dewey & LeBoeuf.

No sooner did we discover that Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft is doing away with its London managing partner role (see story) than Dewey & LeBoeuf has followed suit, as revealed on www.thelawyer.com today (see story).

For weeks the talk has revolved around whether legacy Dewey head Fred Gander or his LeBoeuf counterpart Peter Sharp would be the victor in the London management race.

Yesterday firmwide chair Steve Davis shocked the entire firm by announcing neither of them would because he was keeping the job for himself – along with all of his other duties.

Davis reasoned that the London managing partner role has become so big that it was a “full-time job” that he didn’t want either man to devote himself to. Full-time for any normal human being – not so for Super Steve.

16-Oct 2007
Take your partners…

The Hilton Hotel on London’s Park Lane is awash with Baker & McKenzie colours this week as 700 partners, and their, er, partners, gather for the firm’s annual partnership conference (partners’ partners, it should be noted, will not be taking part in the 200-plus scheduled meetings).

Top of the agenda is the revision of Bakers’ strategy, which is being revamped after the firm overshot its 2008 profitability target a year ahead of schedule (see story).

With Conroy now at the helm for a further three years, the buzzword within the firm is ambition – quite a turnaround for this conservative beast.

Certainly the reach of the strategy is ambitious, with Brazil and Australia now firmly on the firm’s radar. That makes a refreshing change from the array of firms targeting Dubai or India, for example. With Jones Day, Mayer Brown and Dewey & LeBoeuf among a host of firms also targeting Brazil, Bakers cannot expect an easy ride.

Bakers will have a clearer run on an Australian market, which is struggling to cope with an exodus of lawyers to the UK. DLA Piper is the only international firm to show any Aussie ambition after allying itself with Phillips Fox, the firm known locally as Frilly Frocks.

Expect handbags at dawn down under as the battle for talent hots up.

15-Oct 2007
He who dares, wins

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields are battling it out again.

The front line this time is Northern Rock. Up for grabs: the title of pluckiest mandate acceptance.

You will remember that both firms, in different guises, are advising Northern Rock on its current problems (see story). That’s not all the magic circle firms have in common.

It seems the pair – no strangers to conflict rows, it must be remembered –share a love of ballsy client instructions. First, Freshfields decided to part ways with its client of 250 years, the Bank of England, to stick by the Newcastle-headquartered mortgage lender.

Now it transpires that A&O has been less than stingy in accepting roles in the saga. It is also advising the Virgin-led consortium on its approach to Northern Rock (see story).

Is this indicative of a bolder approach by firms to conflict management?

Or, as one compliance expert suggests, is it sophisticated banking clients who are taking all the risk?

To paraphrase Kissinger, in crises the most daring course is often safest.

To read last week’s Lawyer News Daily click here.