Top 10 stories: 16-22 January 2015

The top 10 stories last week were dominated by our annual top 20 cases feature – but the creation of the world’s biggest law firm was close behind.

The hotly-anticipated analysis of the top 20 cases, which showed just how international the English courts now are, was the biggest story of last week. The analysis looked at cases as diverse as mammoth financial cases, major professional negligence disputes and human rights claims.

Also in litigation, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s success for auction house Sotheby’s in a dispute over a painting that may have been painted by the Italian master Caravaggio was popular with readers, as was the news that Addleshaw Goddard’s hire of TLT partner Richard Clayton had brought it an instruction on the top 20 case between Barclays and four former Dewey & LeBoeuf partners.

The second most-read story last week was the news that Dentons has agreed to merge with Chinese firm Dacheng, creating a practice with 6,500 lawyers and turnover of $1.7bn worldwide. The merger, to be formally signed on 27 January, followed both sides’ stated ambitions to go global.

While Dentons was moving into Asia, Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson was moving out. We analysed the reasons behind the firm’s decision to shut its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices.

Meanwhile other firms are also examining their strategies. Clifford Chance’s managing partner Matthew Layton has announced sweeping changes to transform the magic circle giant, while Clyde & Co senior partner James Burns is looking at the future of the firm.

Over at Irwin Mitchell, it emerged that the firm has appointed brokers and is looking at a potential flotation later this year, possibly in a bid to maintain its position against the competition from Australian-listed Slater & Gordon. Pannone Corporate, which demerged from Slater & Gordon last year, is moving to create its own identity with a move into a former chapel in Manchester.

Last week’s list of the top stories was rounded off with research that found male and female general counsel had very different approaches to buying legal services – something which more firms should be aware of.

The full top 10:

1. The top 20 cases of 2015: global disputes in the English courts

2. China’s Dacheng merges with Dentons to create world’s biggest firm

3. Freshfields in the frame as court dismisses Caravaggio claim against Sotheby’s

4. CC appoints global innovation chief as Layton ushers in ‘a decade of massive change’

5. Irwin Mitchell appoints brokers ahead of possible 2015 IPO

6. Clyde & Co’s James Burns: “I’ve always thought of management as a team sport”

7. Why is Fried Frank calling time on its Asia strategy?

8. Addleshaws’ TLT hire leads to Barclays instruction on case against former Dewey partners

9. Pannone Corporate to take up residence in iconic local chapel

10. Female GCs “ahead of the game” in buying legal services