Nostalgia for old working practices can be useful

This column isn’t going to be about lawyers, much. Rather, it’s about how we say goodbye to old ways of working. This month we bid a cheerful farewell to our print version, which was weekly from 1989 to 2017 and monthly thereafter. When I joined The Lawyer as editor 21 years ago, I had not […]

Leader: Client-adviser relationships are clearly improving

I remember 10 years ago sitting in a sun-flecked conference room in Portugal at The Lawyer’s General Counsel Strategy Summit when one senior legal head on the panel began a tirade about how law firm partners didn’t have a clue about in-house practice, that they thought the world revolved around them and how the fees […]

A good reason not to stay in a magic circle law firm

There is a long-standing ideal of the boardroom consigliere shared by many corporate lawyers: a generalist adviser who stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the CEO. It takes time to attain that status, as those who are toiling to create a public M&A practice will acknowledge. For the few private practice individuals who get it right, a senior […]

Bar must act now to ensure more Black barristers apply for silk

How depressingly familiar. The annual silks round is supposed to be a celebration of the best and brightest at the Bar. Except it’s not. The abject lack of encouragement and support for Black barristers who might be thinking of taking their first steps on the road to becoming a QC has become a fundamental and […]

After the pandemic: a good riddance to hot-desking

Until March, we were in a WeWork building. It was lovely. Great views of the South Bank and, in the distance, the City. The coffee was good. The loos were great. Even the DJ in the lobby lifted the spirits on a Monday morning.  Do I want to go back? Not enormously; I don’t miss […]

The hard truth facing China’s elite law firms

With dismal propulsion, Covid is already accelerating the gap between the rich and richest law firms; upper-mid-market firms have seen growth stall and margins shrink while partners at the biggest firms have barely seen any effect on their profit per point. I say dismal, because however neat the theory of consolidation sounds, there’s not necessarily much […]

The magic circle is dividing into East and West – place your bets

The dynamics of the magic circle shift according to what parameters are applied. It can be pay, where Freshfields and Linklaters have slugged it out for top PEP; or private equity market share, where Freshfields and Clifford Chance have maintained a top-grade client base; or attitude to jurisdictional expansion, where Clifford Chance and A&O have […]

If the C-suite has learned one thing from 2008, it’s how to talk

History can help you understand the present, but it never replays itself exactly. A comparison with 2008-10 does, however, provide insight on how law firms have learned from their mistakes. For reasons I can’t quite understand, some consultants and commentators regularly aim potshots at the quality of leadership in law firms when much of the […]

The pandemic and climate change need two styles of leadership

The start of the decade has been grim. A pandemic has led to multiple deaths, a stock market crash, panic buying and an impending recession. Legal industry talk of disruption through AI now seems entirely vanilla. And, without wanting to create a pecking order among the horsemen of the apocalypse, once the public health crisis […]