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

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 …

Law is still a people’s business


Lawyers are ‘totally safe’ from the threat of being replaced by robots, argues Anne-Karin Grill of Vavrovsky Heine Marth

Legal tech is probably the most eminent buzz word in the legal community these days. It has become a recurring conference topic and, in some areas of the legal advisory industry, tech tools have indeed long been integrated in the process. In essence, they are relied upon to increase efficiency, most notably where large volumes …

For BAME students, the struggle to get into law is very real

Diversity and inclusion

The Law Society’s committee member Umar Kankiya
recounts his personal journey into the profession and how law firms can be more diverse and inclusive environments

At 34-years old, I have six-and-a-half years post qualification experience (PQE), am married with two children under the age of four, and am a department head of a Legal 500-recognised law firm. Sounds like life is pretty plain sailing. Yes, life is pretty good, but the struggle to get to where I am now started …

#MeToo and law firm reputation – the PR response

The big issue

Working cultures will need to adapt and evolve if reputations are to be preserved, writes Gus Sellitto, managing director of Byfield Consultancy.

In its first year, the #MeToo movement has had a profound impact on almost every industry, including the legal sector, shining a much-needed light on how we deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and in wider society. The days of quietly brushing sexual harassment under the carpet are gone and the media continues to …

Arbitrating in India? You may be better off elsewhere

Editors' views

Leading lawyers speak to John van der Luit-Drummond about amendments to India’s arbitration law and the impact they may have on a nascent disputes hub

With almost 30 million cases – no that is not a typo! – currently pending before the courts, and some commercial claims taking up to 15 years or more before judgment is given, it is no surprise there is an increasing appetite for arbitration in India. However, the ad hoc nature of India-seated arbitrations, whereby …

A moment to make real change

The big issue

Christina Detsch takes a closer look at the omnipresent trend that is #MeToo and the impact it has had on the US workplace environment.

Speaking to employment law specialists in Sweden during the 2019 EMEA research, one thing struck me as particularly interesting: all noted a ‘wave’ or ‘explosion’ of discrimination and harassment lawsuits, as well as numerous large internal investigations, at the beginning of 2018 just as the #MeToo movement was getting into its stride. However, by the …