Tulkinghorn

“More impenetrable than ever, he sits, and drinks, and mellows as it were in secrecy, pondering at that twilight hour on all the mysteries he knows.”

Tips for Tulkinghorn will reach him on Twitter, at 79 Wells Street, W1T 3QN, or via The Lawyer news desk.

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One of the perks of being an intellectual property lawyer is the opportunity to play with clients’ gadgets and gizmos.

On occasion, a little extra something is provided and CMS‘s head of IP Tom Scourfield has shared his delight on LinkedIn at getting a personalised KitKat from Nestle.

“We haven’t yet got this 3D mark registered in the UK but we will,” he wrote. “In the meantime I’m grateful for the close working relationship I have with such an innovative, hard working and inspirational client at Nestle… This made my day today.”

If any lawyers want to share their own personalised stash they’ve received from clients, send them to Tulkinghorn via the usual channels.

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As Bird & Bird partners prepare to move to brand new offices in September, their excitement about the extra space and views of the Thames has peaked into potential insanity. To complement its new high ceilings and modern appeal, some partners have suggested buying a drone to fly around the office, because they could use it for “things”. 

But others remain unconvinced, saying that it was likely “illegal to fly it indoors” and that it would be a deal breaker for any lawyer who accidentally steers it into a client’s head. “Can you imagine the headlines?” one partner bemoaned.

Tulkinghorn can indeed. ‘Kill TwoBirds with one drone’, and so forth.

“But to be fair, we have the best drone specialists in the country so if it could be done, we would do it,” a partner told Tulkinghorn. Just in case anyone was wondering.

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There were crimson faces (but not anything else) at DWF recently after a marketing mis-step codenamed ‘Pinkgate’.

DWF: pretty in pink

The firm’s logo is bright pink and the DWF attempted to reflect this with its business cards, changing the colour from blue to the appropriate shade of fuschia.

But things went wrong. Having printed out bundles of marketing material and business cards by the packetload to send out to partners across its offices, they quickly realised that clients and lawyers in the Middle East didn’t seem too keen on the colour scheme. “Apparently they don’t like pink over there,” Tulkinghorn’s source says. “It’s something to do with manliness.” 

The firm made a quick U-turn to go back to a more manly baby blue. Crisis averted

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Earlier this year Dentons‘ now million-strong global partner cohort congregated at Disneyland Village (close but very different to Disneyland Paris, sources say) to celebrate a weeklong partner conference.

The topic? World domination – but not everything was serious management presentations in “some of the biggest converted barns in Europe”. Tulkinghorn has learned that in the breaks quite a few partners found time to take a candid picture with classic Disney dog Goofy as a memento of the occasion. Tulkinghorn will refrain from making snide comments on this subject. But if it’s corporate world domination Dentons is after, there’s no better example to follow than that of the House of Mouse.

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Every year Matrix Chambers hosts a terrific party, complete with karaoke, for barristers, staff, clients and friends. There’s always a theme and guests are encouraged to dress up – but the set supplies a box of fancy dress accessories for those who rush in from court clad in a suit and tie.

But a little bird (a parrot, actually, given this year’s nautical theme) tells Tulkinghorn that the accessories of years past languish in the set’s basement, ready for that moment when 70s fashion might be back in the mode. At least if advising on crucial public law issues ceases to be lucrative, Matrix could switch to being a fancy dress supplier.

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The official state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping is causing trouble for one US law firm in London this week, as its lawyers have been banned from leaving their office between 9am and 12pm.

The controversial politician will visit the Old Street offices of marine communication giant Inmarsat – the 20-year home to Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson – on Thursday 22 October, as part of his tour of British business.

The Duke of York Prince Andrew will also be in attendance, with security stepped up to stop any foot traffic in or out of the doors during the stop off.

Tulkinghorn will refrain from all the usual gags about lawyers at US firms never leaving their offices anyway.

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News broke this week that Baker & McKenzie had hired an employment partner from South African firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. But there’s more to Johan Botes than a clever way with labour statutes – he’s also, officially, one of South Africa’s best bakers. Indeed Botes was one of the 12 finalists in the first-ever Great South African Bake Off, currently enthralling viewers.

Botes told the show: “I’m part chemist baker, part artist. I believe in accurate measurement of ingredients and maintaining correct ratios. However, I also love experimenting and enjoy adding ingredients or replacing some – often forced when I belatedly discover that I have insufficient stock of a key ingredient!”

Sadly Botes only made it to the third round of the show, crashing out after committing the fatal error of blind-baking a tart crust without baking parchment. Ooops.

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Here’s a little challenge for law firm office equipment aficionados – Tulkinghorn knows you’re out there –Inkblot or just anyone who fancies themselves as a quiz genius.

The picture on the left shows the inkblot-style motif on a City firm’s boardroom tables – but whose is it? The answer IS guessable – a prize* to the first person who tweets Tulkinghorn with the correct answer. (PS. If you know the answer because it’s your firm it doesn’t count).

*There is no prize

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Tulkinghorn’s spies across the Pond (all right, The American Lawyer) have the fascinating snippet that Texan litigation boutique Susman Godfrey gives out customised cowboy boots to those who make partner.

Tulkinghorn can’t think of what appropriate footwear UK firms might provide in similar circumstances, but at the very least surely this is an initiative that Shoosmiths should follow up on?

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He’s got a reputation for being the thinking woman’s man. His most famous character has analytical skills beyond compare plus a devotion to upholding the rule of law. So it’s no surprise to hear that actor Benedict Cumberbatch has plenty of fans among the legal profession.

Not least among these is Trowers & Hamlins partner Naomi Roper, who has shot to worldwide Cumberprominence among Cumberlovers as the founder of popular fan-site Cumberbatchweb.

With more than 103,000 followers on Twitter, that’s 101,000 more than @Trowers has got. With its international profits plummeting of late, maybe the firm can piggyback on Roper’s success? Could a name change increase Trowers’ appeal to the overseas market?

Goodbye Trowers & Hamlins, hello Cumberlaw

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While England bounce back in the third Ashes Test, the only Aussie to show any fight on the first day was opening bat Chris Rogers, who made 52 before being caught lbw.

Could it be because he learned all his skills from Clarke Wilmott partner Lee Hart, who used to open the batting with him for Devon?

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The set formerly known as 39 Essex Street has dropped the ‘street’ from its name ahead of a move out of the Temple later this year. The shift is helping the set embrace innovation and modernity – and coffee.

39 Essex Chambers’ new premises include a street-level retail unit, and chief executive David Barnes has had a latte on his mind – he’s been toying with the idea of swapping ‘barrister’ for ‘barista’ after inviting independent coffee retailers to compete for the lease.

The terms of the lease will include creating an exclusive blend for the set to entertain clients – and Barnes is sure to have given candidates a roasting.

39 Essex – giving a whole new meaning to a lawyer’s daily grind.

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Jones Day lawyers may be able to enjoy the sunny weather and a good barbecue from their terrace over on Tudor Street, but the fun finishes at 8pm when the noise-hating retired judge who lives in the building opposite is prone to calling the rozzers to compain about their “noise pollution”.

Tulkinghorn was unable to verify the identity of the judge, but whispered mutterings after sundown on the terrace mean that for now, Jones Day lawyers are taking the threats very seriously. What a party-pooper.

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The London office of US firm Steptoe & Johnson moved to swanky new offices in Aldermanbury Square earlier this month, with staff surprised to discover that the building was recently used to film scenes from Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Gunman’, starring Sean Penn, Ray Winstone and Javier Bardem.

The thriller is about a ‘Special Forces Contractor’ played by Penn who carries out targeted assassinations on behalf of Western business interests. After retiring to focus upon humanitarian causes he comes to London to see his old associates after an attempt is made on his life by machete wielding thugs.

The film is certainly at odds with the genteel world of City law although it’s unlikely there’s anything in to scare London Steptoe partner Jeff Cottle.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Cottle spent several years as an active-duty US Naval Intelligence officer, with field tours and at the Pentagon at the Joint  Chiefs of Staff, eventually retiring with the rank of commander. He was decorated for his role in operations in Syria, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf, including Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

Hollywood gunmen?  Pah!

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People might be surprised to learn that life for Clifford Chance partners under David Bickerton is all Zen monks meditating in the dappled shade of the HSBC building.

It stems from the time a stressed-out Bickerton, stuck on a delayed flight home from meeting clients in Portugal, got chatting to the man in the seat beside him – a reformed party animal turned Buddhist monk, who extolled the mind-and-body benefits of group meditation during their two hours in the air.

A convinced Bickerton invited the monk in to Clifford Chance to lead an office-wide meditation session for partners and associates alike on an open plan floor.

Rumour has it the ‘Clifford Chance monk’ is now a regular in the office and if you listen carefully you can still hear the partnership chanting ‘ohm’ from reception.

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With summer – perhaps – finally upon us, those firms with outdoor space are capitalising on it. Witness Allen & Overy, which throws open its roof terrace adjacent to the staff canteen on Friday evenings for a convivial barbeque.

But it’s tough when you don’t have any sort of terrace to sit on munching a hamburger. Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, who have an unhindered view of A&O’s frolics from the Gherkin, have reportedly been sending plaintive emails to their mates at the magic circle firm asking if they can pop round and join the fun.

The answer: nope.

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Tulkinghorn knows the legal profession is resolutely ‘survival of the fittest’, but two big names took the challenge a little too literally when they signed up for Bear Grylls’ Lord of the Flies-style reality TV show ‘The Island’.

A hardened barristers’ clerk and a Slaughter and May partner were surprised to run into each other in the Channel 4 back rooms having both reached the penultimate round of auditions for the six-week long programme.

The pair squared off against each other on hypothetical ‘survival scenarios’ that included what would happen if the Mona Lisa washed up on the isolated beach. Rumour has it the Slaughters partner said he would worship the artwork ‘like a god’, though other candidates were more keen to chop it into firewood.

The chambers heavyweight was pipped to the post when the solicitor progressed to the next round, though ultimately both were passed over for the show. Probably for the best or some unhappy bosses would be forking out for six weeks of holiday pay…

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Legal lookalike

At The Lawyer GC Strategy Summit the resemblance between Ecotricity GC Tom Cowling and celeb chef Gordon Ramsay was remarked upon more than once…

Tulk lookalike 2

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Legal football clashes are a common occurrence round the pitches of London, but there was one with an extra bit of bite last night – the ‘directories derby’ between Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 took place in White City.

For years the two giants of the legal rankings game have gazed across at each other warily from their ivory towers, but this was the first time they had battled it out on the pitch. Which would come out on top and truly prove their dominance?

In the end the result was comprehensive: Chambers won 10-2. A spokesperson from CIFA (Chambers Internal Football Association) said: “Footbaaaaaaaaalllllll.”

Football

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Greece

While the UK’s talking about the possibility of Brexit, the danger of Grexit still looms large.

Knowing that such momentous events tend to happen over holidays when the stock markets are closed, and determined not to be caught on the hop, one magic circle firm put a special ‘task force’ on standby over Easter in case Greece decided to depart from the Euro. So instead of hunting for eggs on Easter weekend, the team was poised by the Batphone waiting for the worst to happen and panicked calls from clients.

It was only afterwards the firm realised that the Greek Orthodox church celebrates Easter a week later than in the West…

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Wild boar animal beast

As anyone who’s worked in a team under a particularly beastly partner knows, fear brings people closer together. But a recent Eversheds business services retreat offered a whole new kind of scary, as what started off as a cheery ‘glamping exercise’ ended in team-building terror as several early-morning joggers in the Forest of Dean ended up being chased by a wild boar.

Tulkinghorn will forego the obvious witticisms about pursuit by legal boors at this point and merely report that, while the size of Eversheds’ porcine foe varies depending on the employee telling the story, all witnesses agree that in the confusion following the chase, the dishevelled and disorientated joggers managed to get lost.

Hours later, the cold and hungry survivors finally straggled back to the camp, where the rest of the team had neglected to notice their absence and had since eaten all the breakfast – consisting of food “foraged by the group.”

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to the story. Although the group was expected to find their own food during the trip, Eversheds had kindly provided a tent full of booze.

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It’s nice to have a local – Tulkinghorn is a regular at The Condemn’d Man round the corner from his country pile and the landlord knows to start pulling a pint of Winkle’s Old Peculier the moment he walks through the door. But you know you’ve been knocking around the profession too long when law firm receptionists greet you like old friends.

That was the situation when one of Tulkinghorn’s scribes visited Addleshaw Goddard recently. The firm’s computer system flags up whether you’re a returning visitor, allowing the receptionist to offer a respectful, “Welcome back, sir,” and present you with a swipe card bearing the same message.

It’s a nice thought – and certainly helps jog the memory – but it’s a bit unnerving all the same. One can’t help but wonder what other details have been filed about your previous visits.

Addleshaws swipe card Tulkinghorn

Visitor 24601: Tulkinghorn. April 2013: Forgot senior partner’s name in meeting. February 2014: Ate too many canapés at firm event. March 2015: Walked off without returning swipe card…

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Dimitry Afanasiev, chairman of Russia’s largest law firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners, is an exceptionally well-connected lawyer who has led his team to many juicy mandates from the Russian state. But the firm is also one of the larger players in Ukraine following a 2011 merger with Ukrainian firm Magisters – and so it has plenty of skin in the game as the conflict between the two countries continues.

Afanasiev scooped the title of European Managing Partner of the Year at The Lawyer’s European Awards last week and despite the ban on speeches, used his moment in the spotlight to lean towards the microphones and launch a call for “Peace in Europe!” The crowd, appreciative of Afanasiev’s win, were too busy clapping to hear him properly (many thought he’d called out “Eastern Europe!”), so the undaunted Dimitry repeated his call. A sentiment many in the room, including Egorov Puginsky’s Ukrainian competitors, certainly agreed with.

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Tulkinghorn despises team-building exercises, being more of a solo operator by preference. So he views with horror the news that partners at US firm Locke Lord are gearing up for their annual retreat in Arizona this April by putting together “fun videos” of their teams, which will then be shown to an audience of 500 colleagues.

It remains to be seen whether this particular bonding initiative will have any success, especially as the brief apperently requires partners to be “funny” and “inventive”.

The Austin office may have a little help, however, as one of their partners is understood to have consulted his Hollywood producer spouse for advice on its compilation – a special explosion effect when filing a claim perhaps?

Meanwhile, a certain London-based Locke Lord partner may be particularly disappointed that the firm won’t have a mechanical bull as part of its retreat this year – especially as he won’t have a chance to top his three-second face-planting 2014 performance, recorded for posterity (and potentially resurfacing this year as part of his team’s compilation).

Here’s a warning – London partners are understood to be planning a pub crawl as the theme of their video. City-dwellers beware.

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Ashurst’s corporate partners organised a dinner last week for their ex-senior partner Charlie Geffen.

Tulkinghorn hears that after some uncertainty over schedules, Ben Tidswell, who beat Geffen to the newly created chairman role last year, attended, along with Simon Bromwich, Logan Mair and 60 or so other current and former Ashurst partners.

Geffen gave the firm a barometer with an inscription on the back quoting entrepreneur Luke Johnson: “Winds of Change – at so many of Britain’s institutions, the leadership talks about transformation but doesn’t really do anything about it, opting instead for a policy of maintaining the status quo while pretending they are not.”

Tulkinghorn’s sources remain silent on Tidswell’s gift to Geffen on behalf of Ashurst…

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With civil rights-inspired flick Selma missing out on the big awards, the winning films at last weekend’s Oscar ceremony had little in the way of legal action going on. Where was this year’s Erin Brockovich or To Kill a Mockingbird?

Tulkinghorn has at discovered at least one legal thriller that was cruelly overlooked: Reel Life, a ’boy-meets-girl romantic comedy’ starring such big name actors as Anthony Stewart Head and, er, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

What’s the legal aspect, you ask? Not only does it tell the story of Oliver, ”a fictional lawyer whose life is a film controlled by directors and producers” but the film was financed by Keystone Law and directed by one of their consultant solicitors, Laurence Relton. As a result, Keystone features prominently in the film.

Keystone’s MD James Knight says: “We funded Reel Life for three reasons. One: because it is written by one of our own people and we like to support that sort of thing; two: Keystone is part of the script which is novel; three: it’s clever and quite funny. If nothing else Reel Life tells the world that lawyers can be funny; sometimes.”

Tulkinghorn’s not sure that getting name-checked in a film is going to lead to many new instructions but perhaps this is the way forward? The 007 franchise is known for taking the corporate dollar in exchange for some subtle product placement, and the amount of reckless driving and damage to property featured in the films surely leaves room for a canny insurance or personal injury firm to step in with some sponsorship.

“So, Mr Bond, it appears you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault…”

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Which City partner is the nephew of 50 Shades of Grey author EL James? Tulkinghorn would spill, but fears a spanking…

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Legal lookalike

Tulkinghorn always felt Norton Rose Fulbright’s Stephen Parish had an avuncular air & now sees why…

Tulk lookalike 1

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Tulkinghorn always likes to sneak into The Lawyer’s Hot 100 photoshoot and make small talk with some of chosen centurions.

This year a number of props were lying about for the hotties to pose with. Most were innocuous, but among the various paraphernalia was a space hopper, brought down from The Lawyer’s more trendy sister publication, Creative Review. Ninety-nine of the hotties made a coy joke about posing on it before plonking themselves firmly on one of the more conventional chairs.

Not so Slaughter and May’s Robert Byk, who promptly asked for a go and bounced around for a bit before eventually taking a more dignified position. Who says Slaughters is stuffy?

Tips for Tulkinghorn will reach him at 79 Wells Street, W1T 3QN