Editor's Letter

April 2019 issue front cover image

The days of law firms quietly brushing unsavoury partner behaviour under the carpet appear to be over. In the last month alone, two Big Law partners have been shown the door by their firms; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe ousted Africa practice head Pascal Agboyibor from its Paris office following reports of inappropriate behaviour, while in Chicago, Mayer Brown ‘terminated’ Zac Barnett, head of the firm’s global fund
finance practice, after ‘inappropriate personal conduct with a subordinate’.

These are just the latest lawyers to be dismissed in the #MeToo era and a sign that the world’s largest firms are at last taking seriously allegations of inappropriate behaviour – including that committed by their top producers. No doubt there will be more dismissals in the months ahead as firms continue to clean house. In recognition of its global impact, and following our own team’s very recent experience of inappropriate behaviour (see issue 02), April’s fivehundred has a special #MeTooLaw focus.
Christina Detsch looks at the impact the movement has had on the US workplace environment (page 60); Seth Singh Jennings talks to Lauren Casazza and Kim Nemirow about why they established Kirkland & Ellis’s ‘crisis response practice’; in light of changes to the regulatory environment, partnership expert Clare Murray explains how UK firms have reacted to sexual harassment claims ; and PR guru Gus Sellitto says firms need to consider how they respond to #MeToo allegations if their reputations are to be preserved.

Among our regular features, Umar Kankiya explains why BAME students struggle to get into law; Three New Square’s Nicholas Hill reflects on his time as chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks, and the work still to be done; Vavrovsky Heine Marth’s Anne-Karin Grill says law is a people’s business, and legal tech won’t change that; and Propero Partners’ Jonathan Phillips explores what changing client behaviour means for law firms of the future.

Elsewhere, Caribbean editor Amy Ulliott talks to BVI-based firms affected by Hurricane Irma and the lessons they learned following the devastating storm; Andrea de Palatis analyses the latest New Zealand rankings; Will Tolcher reports on the latest private equity trends in Latin America; and I talk to leading Indian lawyers about an amendment to their nation’s arbitration laws which falls short of lofty, long-term goals.

And in this month’s big interviews, we talk to Terence Tung, Asia senior partner at Mayer Brown; Fernando Vives, executive chairman of Garrigues; Gavin MacLaren, CEO of Corrs Chambers Westgarth ; McCormick’s founder Peter McCormick; and Vanessa King, managing partner of O’Neal Webster); while our practice area spotlight focuses on employee incentives.

I hope you enjoy this April issue and look forward to seeing you again next month with more exclusive content.

John van der Luit-Drummond

Juerg Birri

Hall of fame: Juerg Birri

Global head of Legal Services KPMG Global Legal Services, Juerg Birri explains how the practice is disrupting the legal profession and delivering meaningful change for clients.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate KPMG Global Legal Services from your competitors? In today’s complex business environment, organizations need more than just good lawyers, they need business-savvy legal advisors. Our clients want legal services tailored to their unique priorities, challenges and needs and they want the convenience and efficiency of …

Max Berger

Hall of fame: Max Berger

Max Berger, co-founder, discusses how Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP is adapting to changing client needs.

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability? My greatest achievement as a professional was the co-founding of my law firm in 1983. During our growth – from the four founding partners to a law firm of approximately one hundred fifty lawyers in four cities – we have never wavered from …

Paul Friedland

Hall of fame: Paul Friedland

Partner Paul Friedland discusses how White & Case LLP is adapting to changing client needs.

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability? Earning and keeping the respect of colleagues, whether junior or senior, and of peers inside or outside my firm. What do you do differently from your peers in the industry? I don’t presume to be different or better than peers. I hold myself …

We all face a common challenge

Interview with: Fernando Vives

Garrigues’ managing partner and executive chairman talks
organic growth, managing through recession, and why it is
impossible to predict the future of law.

How would you define your firm’s culture? In our kind of business, a strong firm culture easily recognizable by clients is essential. Garrigues has developed a global culture, based on strong ethical values and a commitment with excellence, shared by our 2,000 people team in 13 countries. The client benefits from the fact that they …

If you are standing still, you’re going backwards

Interview with: Gavin MacLaren

Law firms must be fast followers of new tech to offer clients the best systems on the market, says Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s senior partner and CEO.

How would you define your firm’s culture? Culture is intrinsically linked to, and the foundation for, success. It is what drives behaviour and decision making at every level, and ultimately determines our ability to deliver outstanding results for our clients. At Corrs, our culture is focused on excellence, collaboration – both internally and with our …

Sports law is big business

Interview with: Peter McCormick OBE

McCormicks Solicitors’ senior partner on the pressures of acting for high-profile clients, why young lawyers can’t be nervous groupies, and why all lawyers need to be
better at collecting their fees.

How would you describe your practice? A wide-ranging and extensive sports practice covering football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, horseracing, cycling, boxing, and athletics. Football is the best known and most extensive. We cover the full range of football entities from the Premier League, Leeds United, Harrogate Town in the National League to the Bostik …

Talent retention is critical and unity is strength

Interview with: Terence Tung

Terence Tung photo

Mayer Brown’s senior partner in Asia talks about avoiding silos, a commitment to pro bono, and working as a collective.

How would you describe your firm’s culture and how important is it to you? Is it different in Asia from the home base in Chicago? Mayer Brown has a strong one-firm culture that enables us to be seamless in serving our clients. This is possible because we operate as a global partnership, rather than in …

To the future of clerking

The Bar

In a recent speech given at Middle Temple, Three New Square senior clerk Nicholas Hill reflects on his three years as chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks

By the time you read this, I will recently have completed my three year term as chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC). It comes with a mixture of emotion. Any relief I may have at not having to give another after dinner speech is more than outweighed by the sense of sadness that …

Tell your people where they stand

Interview with: Vanessa King

O’Neal Webster’s managing partner talks talent retention, EU blacklisting, launching a New York office, and the difficulties of having an open door policy

How do you define your firm’s culture and how important is that culture to you? We have a very collaborative, supportive, family-based culture in the firm. I am not saying this because I am the managing partner, but it has been described as such by outsiders who have observed us and it is a culture …

Success off map

Country spotlight: New Zealand

Too small, too far away, but a good place to be. Asia Pacific deputy editor Andrea de Palatis considers New Zealand’s steady legal market

New Zealand is a country that has a long history of being left off the world map, including on wall maps sold by Ikea and displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. Producers of A-level geography books and board games are also guilty of the omission. Are New Zealanders offended? Not quite. They respond …