Editor's Letter

February Issue Cover

‘Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay’, or so the famous saying goes. Fortunately for lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic, two of this month’s contributors have paid that quip no mind.

You’d have to be an ardent anti-social media type not to be aware of The Secret Barrister. In conversation with The Legal 500’s David Burgess, the acclaimed author of bestselling non-fiction book Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken shines a light on the grubby underbelly of England and Wales’ justice system (page 47).

But SB is not the only author featured in this February issue.  Deborah B. Farone, former CMO of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, talks about writing her debut book – Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing – which reveals the secrets to operating a successful marketing department.

Speaking of marketing, we also hear from Linsay Leslie on how your directory submissions and its ‘killer’ content are a gold mine and shouldn’t go to waste once the directory process is over for another year. Your bid team will thank you later.

Turning to law firm leadership, Richard Crump sits down with us to discuss HFW’s recent international expansion and how he has an eye on the US market . We also hear from the leadership of Hodge Jones & Allen, DWF, Suciu Popa, NautaDutil, and Bougartchev and Moyne on what makes their firms tick (page 6 onwards).
In Germany, we ask a section of legal luminaries what makes a great partner to work with, while Craig Hoyland mentions the ‘M’ word and warns firms that they must look after their talent if succession plans are to be realised.

Continuing our conversation about diversity, Dana Denis Smith explains why we still have a ways to go a century after women legally began practising law, and former solicitor Carolyn McCombe describes her journey to becoming one of the leading CEOs in chambers.

And if all that wasn’t enough for you to devour, our team of editors dissect the latest UK Bar, Australia, and Caribbean rankings to showcase the best firms and chambers of 2019. We also consider the growing specialisation of US fintech lawyers  and investigate why international law firms have yet to invest in Norway’s legal market.

Find all this and more in February’s fivehundred. Don’t forget to email me with your suggestions for future content at john.vdld@legal500.com and download the new The Legal 500 app – featuring all past issues of the magazine – from iTunes.

John van der Luit-Drummond

Chambers by numbers

The Bar

Ahead of the 2020 research, UK Bar editor John van der Luit-Drummond examines the current rankings to see which sets came out ahead in 2019.

It’s been just over a couple of months since we launched the 2019 UK Bar guide, and in only a couple of months’ time our research team will begin work on the 2020 edition (I know, I know, no rest for the wicked!). Ahead of our March submissions deadline, I wanted to take another look …

The millennial bug


With today’s associates more likely than ever to switch
jobs – and willing to question the benefits of the partnership track – Definitive Consulting’s Craig Hoyland explores how law firms can retain the next generation of leaders.

A millennial (or generation Y) is typically classed as anyone born between 1980 and 1994. Therefore, in the legal profession this group includes both the junior partners and senior associates who are now close to or about to make the step up to partner, which is easier said than done in the current climate. More …

A market of contradictions

Country focus: Australia

New international entrants, unsustainable fee structures,
legal service innovation are all under the microscope as
deputy Asia Pacific editor Andrea de Palatis analyses ’s Australia rankings.

G’day from Australia, where the term jurisdiction commonly refers to a state, not the entire country. Outlining common trends is therefore a challenge. Australia does not have one economy, or booming sector. In fact, whatever can be said about Australia, the opposite is also true – somewhere. Many international firms, among them Allen & Overy …

Lawyers learn new tricks

The big issue

US editor Seth Singh Jennings talks to fintech specialists on the evolution of their practice and what the future holds for financial institutions and their lawyers .

When The Legal 500 United States 2019 launches in May 2019, it will include, for the first time, a dedicated ranking for fintech practices. Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past five years, you’ll be very familiar with the term – as well as some examples such as cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer lending – …

100 years and counting

Diversity and inclusion

CEO Obelisk Support and former Linklaters lawyer, Dana Denis-Smith who founded the First 100 Years
project, explains what inspired her to celebrate the
journey of women in law and why law firms must do
better to right the scales of equality.

A wonderful group image captured my imagination in November 2013 – it was a photograph of the partners of City law firm Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills), dating from 1982, marking the firm’s centenary at Grocer’s Hall in London. In the middle of the group of 50 or so men, there was a blue-clad …

Lawyers of the Caribbean: A rankings guide

Editors' views

Editor Amy Ulliott takes a closer look at the newly
published 2019 rankings to see how the region’s law firms have performed this past year.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that The Legal 500’s latest Caribbean rankings have recently been published online. In addition to coverage of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands (Cayman), and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the 2019 rankings saw the introduction of the Bahamas into the guide. A new practice area was also added with a new …

Why Norway lacks a Big Law presence

Editors' views

Following her research trip to Oslo, Amy Ulliott investigates why international law firms have yet to invest in Norway’s legal market, leaving domestic firms to dominate the space.

In many ways, the Norwegian legal market looks like any other; a mixture of large full-service firms and smaller boutiques simultaneously jostling and working together to gain as much work as possible from the national industries they rely upon, while also feeling the impact when those same industries struggle. Upon closer look, however, you begin …

That was then, this is now

Hall of Fame

Deutschland editor Anna Bauböck talks to members of The Legal 500’s Hall of Fame on the past, present, and future of the legal profession

‘Associates today think one is talking about the Stone Age when describing how you spent nights at the fax machine because no evening support staff was available and email did not exist’, says Dr. Werner Meier, head of Simmons & Simmons German finance and restructuring practice, when asked about starting his legal career in 1992. …

The Secret Barrister

In conversation

Since 2015, a barrister practising criminal law in the UK started blogging and tweeting under the pseudonym ‘The Secret Barrister’. The aim was to shine a light on the inadequacies, and indeed failings, of the criminal justice system.

This culminated in 2018 with the publication of Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken, which became a surprisingly mainstream success, remaining in the Sunday Times Top 10 bestsellers list for twenty four weeks, selling over 165,000 copies across all formats. The content would surprise many readers outside of the UK, which is frequently …

Delivering value isn’t about ‘more for less’

Interview with: Andrew Leaitherland

DWF’s managing partner and CEO on rewarding lawyers based on merit, implementing the latest tech for the benefit of clients, and the power of partners’ buy-in

How would you define DWF’s culture and how important is that culture to you? Culture is incredibly important. It sets the expectation for how our people work together and, in turn, how we work with our clients. Our culture is underpinned by our values which prioritise innovation, collaboration and high performance, and which give us …