isaacsmith

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Letter from London Queen.JPGEd. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to Letter from London, a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at [email protected].

Hey, we love the Skadden “Sidebar” programme – which, like a year-old Hollywood movie, washed up belatedly on these shores last week. A third of your massive salary to do whatever you want, no strings attached – plus you’re exempt from any redundancy rounds while you’re away! And the reassuringly accomplished Sidebar branding means you really believe them when they say that.

The bitter irony is, of course, that this thing is being wasted on lawyers. “So what would you do if you had a whole year to do anything you fancied and still get paid?” I asked a group of London Big Law associate friends over some drinks in the pub last week.

“I’m fascinated by different cultures, so I’d go skiing,” said one.

“I’d have my bathroom refitted – you get a much higher standard of finish when you’re there to monitor the work yourself,” contributed another.

“A combination of the two would afford a sensible balance,” added a third.

After the jump, is expansion the answer?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: Skadden Takes Sidebar to London”

Letter from London Queen.JPGEd. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to Letter from London, a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at [email protected].

The G20 summit, accompanied by its anti-capitalist sideshow, arrives in London this week – and UK Big Law is feeling a little scared.

Law firms are warning employees not to wear suits on Wednesday or Thursday so as to avoid being targeted in the violent protests planned around London’s financial district.

Which provokes an interesting question: how ghetto does a corporate lawyer need to dress in order to avoid arousing suspicion as to their true identity?

We’ll soon find out.

It all seems a bit unfair, really. It’s not as if lawyers got the super big bonuses. And now their salaries are actually falling. If those nasty anti-capitalists had bothered to have a quick scan of The Lawyer last Wednesday, they’d have seen that Shearman & Sterling’s London office had followed Freshfields in cutting newly qualified associate salaries by 8%.

Are we going back in time? More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: Where Magic Happens”

Letter from London Queen.JPGEd. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to Letter from London, a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at [email protected].

On his recent trip to the US, Prime Minister Brown presented President Obama with an ornamental pen holder, carved from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet.

In return, Obama gave Brown some DVDs — which, it was revealed on Wednesday, don’t work in UK DVD players.

Why humiliate us like this?

Maybe Obama was angry at the UK because London-based firm Clifford Chance laid off 35 business support staff from its New York and DC offices at the end of last year. But news of that only emerged last week — after Obama purchased the DVDs.

Perhaps Obama has a thing against the British. We do, after all, “sound gay and smell like Indian food” — as one poster on last Monday’s column observed. But your new president doesn’t seem the sort of chap to be burdened by petty prejudices — aside from, of course, his hatred of the disabled.

Or could it be that Obama is pissed off that he had to meet Brown instead of Tony Blair? Yeah, that makes sense. Americans f**king love Tony Blair.

Something you might not know about Tony Blair, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: Why Do You Hate Us?”

Letter from London Queen.JPGEd. note: The legal world is much bigger than New York, or Washington, or even the United States. Welcome to the inaugural installment of “Letter from London,” a weekly dispatch from the other side of the pond. Our U.K. correspondent, Isaac Smith, will expose ATL readers to the latest goings-on in the London legal world. You can reach Isaac by email, at [email protected].

Firms in the U.S. often try to keep their layoffs nice and quiet, with instructions not to communicate with the media or the odd scare tactic… Cousins, you’re not alone.

A recent meeting between DLA Piper’s UK management team and employee reps over its stingy redundancy package got off to a bad start when London Managing Partner Catherine Usher pleaded for “ideas on how we can keep the information confidential” — words which were leaked, along with the rest of the minutes, to just about every legal news publication in London last week.

Some quick background: DLA, which launched its second redundancy consultation in January (with criteria including number of sick days taken), is paying out the statutory minimum to UK-based lawyers who get the chop. This equates to one week’s pay (capped at £350 a week) for each year’s service. By way of comparison, Linklaters is said to be offering three weeks’ pay (at the full rate, without any cap) for every year with the firm, plus three months’ notice. DLA’s US arm is also being considerably more generous.

More of the DLA minutes:

Meeting begins with Usher urging associates to stop leaking things to the press.

Employee rep points out link between firm’s less-than-generous redundancy package and press leaks.

Heated exchanges ensue.

Hapless HR manager tries to pacify the crowd, but her misguided recommendations that (a) associates go out for some morale-boosting team drinks and (b) the fired ones use an “an advice line” which provides “guidance about the impact of redundancy and what to do next” only make situation worse.

Anger boils over and Usher and HR Manager set upon by frenzied mob.

Ok, that last bit may not have happened.

Addition London news, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: U.K. Confidential”

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