The Lawyer Awards winners 2004: where are they now?

The Lawyer Awards winners 2004: where are they now?We have reached 2004 in our countdown to The Lawyer Awards 2008. Each week we are taking a look at some former winners and charting how their careers have progressed.

Management Team of the Year:

Addleshaw Goddard picked up the award in this category for the bedding down of arguably one of the most successful mergers between regional firms in recent times.

Although turnover of the combined Addleshaw Booth & Co and Theodore Goddard had dropped by more than £5m, costs were also slashed and profit was pushed up.

As The Lawyer wrote at the time: “It bodes well for the coming years and is a testament to the charming ruthlessness of managing partner Mark Jones. In Jones’s capable hands, the future at Addleshaws looks bright.”

Indeed, Jones was re-elected managing partner for a fourth term in 2006, and the firm has continued to go from strength to strength. Runner-up in the category was Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), and The Lawyer singled out managing partner Neville Eisenberg who is still at the firm’s helm.

In 2004, profit at BLP had leapt by a spectacular 40 per cent after some tight financial management. The firm’s very friendly link with New York’s Kramer Levin, however, was doomed to last for less time than Eisenberg’s rein, and in October 2007 the alliance bit the dust when the US firm was downgraded to one of BLP’s 100 preferred global firms.

Law Firm of the Year:

BLP’s success in 2004 continued when it won the Law Firm of the Year award for excelling in the midmarket, particularly after revitalising its corporate and finance areas – and its profit – following the 2001 merger of Berwin Leighton and Paisner & Co.

It was also one of the early adopters of work in the AIM sector, where it still has a dominant position despite many more players piling into the market.

US Law Firm of the Year:

It was also a great year for Weil Gotshal & Manges, which was US Firm of the Year. The firm poached private equity star David Aknin from Linklaters and merged with Parisian corporate powerhouse Serra Leavy & Cazals.

Weil Gotshal’s client list is enviable, especially in the private equity field – last year the firm advised private equity giant Terra Firma on its purchase of EMI.

Partner of the YearWeil Gotshal’s managing partner Mike Francies was also recognised at the awards and is still leading the firm in London after helping it crack the UK market.

Francies is still recognised as one of the UK’s best corporate lawyers to have settled down at a US firm. And The Lawyer’s comment that “nobody in the City has a bad word to say about the man”, is still as accurate.

DLA Piper‘s technology, media and telecoms partner Richard Bonnar was runner-up in the category, having worked on a slew of government IT projects, as well as the ill-fated National Programme for IT in the NHS, which, infamously, still continues.

Third-placed Graham White of Linklaters, meanwhile, left the firm in 2006 for Kirkland & Ellis with his buddy Raymond McKeeve. McKeeve has since left the law to join private equity tycoon Robert Tchenguiz as an investment professional.

Projects/PFI Team of the YearProjects partner Kenneth MacRitchie’s team at Shearman & Sterling won the Projects/PFI Team of the of the Year award for its involvement in the biggest-ever financing in Egypt and for creating a benchmark for future liquified natural gas (LNG) projects.

Shearman is still highly renowned in the global projects and LNG fields. MacRitchie has now stepped down as London managing partner at the firm, meaning he will have some more time to get his hands dirty again on projects fieldwork.

Pro Bono Activity of the Year:

LawWorks, in partnership with the Solicitors Pro Bono Group (SPBG), picked up the prize in 2004, for having provided access to justice for three years to those who are not eligible for public funding and who do not have sufficient funds to engage private legal help.

The unwieldy SPBG moniker has since been subsumed into the catchier LawWorks, and the joint organisation has continued to grow – it seems as though at least half the City is now signed up to pro bono staff legal advice clinics.