It takes a while to get over squandering an empire. As our habit of placing the prefix “Great” before “Britain” suggests, we’re still not quite there yet. But deep down we know we blew it. The evidence is everywhere: from our dentists, who don’t really know what they’re doing anymore, to our universities, which are crumbling, just like our schools, hospitals, and public transport.
Somehow, though, the U.K’s legal system has avoided being dragged into this spiral of decline. Yes, we’re still good at law — so good, in fact, that London is the top destination in the world for international companies to settle disputes, and English law the most popular among international in-house counsel (40% use it, with just 14% opting for New York law). And, in spite of the relatively tiny size of the British domestic legal market, our law firms manage to give yours a run for their money, with the Magic Circle quartet of Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields and A&O outdoing most of their U.S. rivals in terms of turnover and profits.
Doubtless part of this success stems from the fact that Britain is the home of the Common Law, which, unless some joker on Wikipedia is deceiving me, was invented around the 1150s by King Henry II. And as we saw during the April nuptials between Prince William and his bride Kate, our “Ye Olde Ingland” nostalgia sells very nicely to foreigners….
Almost half (48%) of Career Center survey respondents said they were too busy billing on the Labor Day holiday to fire up the barbie. That’s more than the 35% of survey respondents who reported working on the Fourth of July, but less than the 73% of respondents who worked on Presidents’ Day, and the 66% of respondents who worked on MLK Day.
The most popular reasons given for skipping out on the Labor Day celebrations were:
56% said that nobody specifically asked them to do work, but they had work they needed to get done. 29% said a partner or associate asked them to do work. 14% said a client asked them to do work. 10% said they needed the hours. 7% said everyone else in their office was working. 3% said that Labor Day is not recognized as an official firm holiday.
Now let’s find out in which practice areas and at which Biglaw firms associates were most and least likely to work on Labor Day….
“Thank God” Britain didn’t join the Euro, said U.K. chancellor George Osborne last month, as the debt crisis in Greece began to spread to the much larger economies of Italy and Spain. But with the fortunes of the U.K. tightly bound to the rest of Europe (its biggest trading partner), the reality is that we’ll be hit almost as hard as our single currency-sharing neighbours if, as many expect, the crisis worsens.
Last week, as I did the rounds of the U.S. law firms in London in preparation for the commencement of these regular installments from across the pond, I asked various managing partners what European debt contagion would mean for large law firms in the U.K. And, predictably, they reeled off the standard recession line about law firms being “well placed to handle the anticipated wave of restructuring work.”
Doubtless there’s some truth to this. Indeed, Skadden and Linklaters are already riding the wave, with the pair currently advising on the merger between Greece’s second- and third-largest banks. Such are the demands of the deal that much of Skadden’s relatively small London office has apparently been required to temporarily decamp to Athens.
The worry is what happens after the restructuring is complete, with experts predicting that Eurozone sovereign debt defaults could precipitate a decade-long depression. This would be especially bad for the legal profession….
While some people seem to think Japan’s status as a rich nation means it doesn’t need any international aid, I don’t see how the country’s long-term ability to recover has anything to do with the immediate humanitarian crisis. Japan will undoubtedly be able to rebuild in the future, but its citizens need food and water today.
We’ve now received word that even more Biglaw firms are pitching in to do what they can. If you know of additional firms supporting relief efforts that we have not mentioned, please tell us in the comments to this post….
Bruce MacEwen has been blogging long and well over at Adam Smith, Esq. He typically writes about law firm management, and his target audience is senior lawyers at large firms. Recently, however, MacEwen published a post about an award that Kraft Foods gave to Clifford Chance for innovation in delivering legal services.
Apparently, Clifford Chance helped Kraft’s legal department with its knowledge management issues. Clifford Chance had experience in knowledge management; Kraft did not; Clifford Chance helped Kraft to create a series of blogs and discussion boards in which Kraft’s in-house legal department will share information. MacEwen provides this example:
“Kraft, as you know, is a global consumer food services company . . . which means they generate their own specific variety of legal questions, such as ‘what food-like items are subject to VAT in various countries around the world?’ Food is largely exempt from VAT, non-food subject to it. Kraft sells some products, such as chewing gum, which are on the border.
“If you post that question on a discussion board, and get responses from around the world, you have the beginning of a knowledge base on VAT incidence on quasi-food items. And of course it’s also recorded for posterity, at least in theory never needing to be answered again.”
This type of knowledge management is surely a good idea. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that only one of the two tools that Clifford Chance helped Kraft to create is ultimately going to prove effective. Which one, you ask?
Things have been a little quiet lately on the spring bonus front. For a while we were wondering whether this might be it — i.e., that any firm that hasn’t announced by now isn’t planning on announcing anything.
The bonus news is coming fast and furious now. I guess a lot of Biglaw firms want people to think of Cahill as a “boutique” type of firm like Susman Godfrey instead of a Biglaw competitor who simply saw Cravath’s bonus payout and smashed it.
The latest news is from international powerhouse Clifford Chance. Its New York bonus memo just went out, and it is a straight match of the Cravath scale…
The new season of The Apprentice: Recession Edition premieres tomorrow night on NBC, and if you weren’t planning on watching it because it’s the 87th season and nobody cares, you just might want to reverse course. No fewer than five unemployed lawyers — cupcake-wielding Brandy, ex-beauty queen Nicole, fashion-obsessed Mahsa, old person Clint, and Prince Harry-lookalikeJames — are competing to be Donald Trump’s main minion this season. Above the Law scored an advance interview with one of them.
James Weir, 31, was a second-year litigator in Clifford Chance’s New York office before getting laid off because of the economy back in October 2008. Unable to find work, this Duke undergrad and ’06 Georgetown Law grad became a “couch surfer” (according to his Apprentice bio), brazenly unafraid of bedbugs (I asked), who spent his time applying for jobs, watching a lot of Netflix Instantly Viewable, and learning to stain furniture (presumably on purpose).
In our brief interview, James reveals ATL’s role in his casting (!!), shares the two things he wishes he said on air, and tells us what his mom really thinks about all of this…
We’re rolling through the Vault 2011 list of the “prestigiest” firms in the land, so that you can comment on what it’s like to actually live, work, and breathe those firms (when you’re not choking on all the prestige in the air).
We’ve covered #1-10 and #11-20. Here’s the next round-up. Now it’s time for the London-based Magic Circle firms to join in the elite fun:
Earlier this week, we told you to look out for a former Clifford Chance associate — Georgetown Law grad James Weir — on the upcoming recession-inspired edition of “The Apprentice.” We lamented that Donald Trump was providing work to only one unemployed lawyer.
Shortly thereafter, we found out that the Donald had in fact been more gracious than that to the legal profession. He has given work to at least two down-and-out legal eagles. A tipster wrote:
Saw your post about the former Clifford Chance attorney who was cast for this upcoming season of the Apprentice and wanted to let you know there is also a recent Brooklyn Law grad named Mahsa Saiedi-Azcuy on the show. She graduated in 2009 and was actually hired by the Brooklyn DA, uncertain as to her current employment status though.
We look forward to this match-up: Woman vs. Man. Brooklyn Law vs. Georgetown Law. DA’s Office vs. Biglaw.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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