Editor's Letter

December / January Issue Cover

‘Unfortunately, we cannot hire any women because they just run off, have babies, and never come back – and all the training and money invested in them is wasted.’ That was the view of one partner in Germany when asked by a senior member of our editorial team about the lack of diversity in his firm.

There’s no getting away from it: women are underrepresented in the higher echelons of the legal profession globally, and as UK Solicitors editor Georgina Stanley highlights on page 72, women lawyers also often fail to be recognised in legal
publications. For this reason, every issue of fivehundred will include a dedicated diversity and inclusion section and why, when approaching leading law firms and barristers chambers, we ask not just for the best contributors but also for a diverse
group of authors.

First, in our cover interview we hear from Tricia Hobson of Norton Rose Fulbright on being appointed the firm’s first female global chair; while, also in Sydney, we hear from Gilbert + Tobin co-founder Danny Gilbert on his firm’s new gender-equality commitment, which aims for a 40% female partnership by 2023 . Making the short(ish) hop to Auckland, New Zealand we speak to Sarah Sinclair about MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ new diversity and wellbeing initiatives.

Returning to Germany, senior researcher Dr Dana Ferchland seeks to understand why firms in her home country are so reluctant to promote and retain women leaders.

Also talking about leadership in the law is Serjeants’ Inn’s CEO Catherine Calder, who explains the importance of female friendship in the workplace and how she hopes to encourage more women into chambers.

Meanwhile, in this month’s client side feature (page 56), we break down what really grinds GCs’ gears – and yes, as highlighted last month, a lack of diversity in
law firms is one of the chief complaints from in-house counsel. As for what grinds our gears, we explain the consequences to firms of inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour directed at our team.

We also hear from Clyde & Co senior partner Simon Konsta, Remfry & Sagar managing partner Ashwin Julka, and Goodwin chairman David Hashmall on their lives at the top of leading firms, and Baker McKenzie’s global transactional group give us the lowdown on how they close three deals every day. Elsewhere, our team of editors and senior researchers consider the legal markets in Australia, Italy, Japan, the Czech Republic and the UK Bar, as well as the importance of a pro bono culture in US firms. There is all that and more in this second issue of fivehundred.

As always, if you have any comments on this month’s articles, or if your firm would like to contribute to future issues, then please contact me at john.vdld@legal500.com

John van der Luit-Drummond

A state of flux

Practice area focus: Tax contents

S Saravana Kumar of Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill believes tax practitioners will be kept busy for the foreseeable future thanks to the change in Malaysia’s tax regime

Please give us an overview of the current legal market in Malaysia and how any recent developments have impacted your practice? The renewed emphasis on the rule of law and transparency under the new government, as well as the new Prime Minister’s promise that illegally collected taxes will be returned, is encouraging for tax practitioners. …

The future looks bright for Japan’s tax practitioners

Practice area focus: Tax contents

The trend for taxpayers to turn to lawyers, rather than accountants, to handle complex tax law issues and the steady increase in disputed tax assessments are promising signs for the market, says Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu’s Yushi Hegawa

Please give us an overview of the current legal market in Japan and how any recent developments have impacted your practice? The Japanese tax market has been modestly active for the last several years. On the controversy side, there are a small but significant number of tax assessments where the taxpayers wish to dispute the …

Substantial benefits

Practice area focus: Tax contents

Thanks to Cyprus’ strategic location and other incentives for businesses, tax
practitioners are likely to stay busy, but they must also be aware of the authorities’ crackdown on insubstantial companies, says Elias Neocleous of Elias Neocleous & Co LLC

Please give us an overview of the current legal market in Cyprus and how any recent developments have impacted your practice? The most significant development in the current legal market is an unprecedented tightening of regulatory scrutiny and focus on abuse of the financial and banking system. Since the beginning of 2018 the Cyprus government …

Preparing for change

Practice area focus: Tax contents

Developments in national and international law, particularly with regard to tax compliance and aggressive tax planning, will have an impact on Austrian practices over the next few years, writes Gerald Schachner and Kornelia Wittmann of bpv Hügel Rechtsanwälte GmbH

Please give us an overview of the current legal market in Austria and how any recent developments have impacted your practice? Whereas tax lawyers are increasingly receiving mandates to represent clients before the tax courts, the general landscape of tax advice in M&A is equally shared between tax lawyers and tax advisers. The Big Four …

Wading through international waters: Japan and dispute resolution

Editor’s views

Following his 2018 research trip to Tokyo, senior researcher Arne Dumez reflects on the evolution of Japanese corporate culture

Shinzo Abe’s economic policies and fluctuations in global markets have impacted Japan in a variety of ways. Incoming employment law reforms, recent regulatory scandals and austere financial circumstances are turning Japanese corporate culture away from its established dogmas. Where the corporate titans of Toshiba or Panasonic would have once gritted their teeth through distress, they …

Lawyers, Czech yo self

Editor’s views

Back from her latest fact-finding tour, China editor Bei Zhao reports on the latest developments in the Czech Republic and why its lawyers are falling out of love with international law firms

The Czech Republic is ‘on top of the economy cycle,’ according to one law firm partner when I recently visited Prague. The unemployment rate is currently the lowest in Europe and the lowest in 22 years; the financial conditions appear to be the best ever and, together with low interest rates, are driving a healthy …

Funding classes down under

Editor’s views

Following her visit to Sydney, new Caribbean editor Amy Ulliott reports on the increasing prevalence of class action lawsuits and third-party litigation funders

The US is commonly seen as the home of class action litigation, with thousands of claims brought every year and new securities class actions averaging one a day in 2017. However, in recent years Australia has well and truly embraced the class action culture and established itself as one of the leading markets globally for …

The ugly side of law firm research

Editor’s views

The #MeToo moment has shone a light on inappropriate behaviour in the practice of law. Unfortunately, some lawyers still don’t get it, but The Legal 500 will be taking a stand

For months, the legal press has detailed a string of sexual harassment scandals within several of the world’s leading law firms. Baker McKenzie, Dentons, Quinn Emanuel, Linklaters, Herbert Smith Freehills, Latham & Watkins, and, more recently, Clyde & Co and Reed Smith have all found themselves under the glare of the media spotlight after allegations …

Closing the US justice gap

Closing the US justice gap

US editor Seth Singh Jennings talks to Gibson Dunn and Morrison & Foerster lawyers on why law firms have an obligation to seek out pro bono work

The concept of pro bono – literally ‘serving the public good’ – is intrinsic to the profession of law, and nowhere more so than in the US. In 2017, chart-topping Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP clocked an impressive 180,000 pro bono hours worldwide, equating to roughly 129 hours per lawyer, and many other firms are …

Local presence married to an international strategy

Country spotlight: Italy

Rosario Zaccà and Antonio Auricchio, managing partners of Gianni, Origioni, Grippo, Capelli & Partners

How are client demands in Italy changing? Italian clients require an increasing understanding of their business and specialist expertise in their industry sector(s). Clients’ desire for new markets is achieved not only through their penetration in the richer markets of industrialised countries, but increasingly through access into fast-growing economies, which have a growth rate three …