Editor's Letter

February 2020 issue cover - scaled

A happy 2020 and Year of the Rat to all our readers worldwide and welcome to fivehundred’s new home. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that The Legal 500 has had a facelift over the new year with the launch of a brand new website. Part of this new look involves a dedicated hub for all of our exclusive content (www.legal500.com/fivehundred-magazine/) making it even easier for you to read and share our articles on the go. And you’ll be wanting to do just that with our first full issue of the new year which has more exclusive insight into the legal world than you can shake a stick at.

This month sees our intrepid Helen Donegan speak with some of the biggest names in the US, including: Anand Sharma on switching NASA for a career in law and becoming the first managing partner of colour at Finnegan (page 28); Clifford Chance US’ Evan Cohen reveals the strategy behind the firm’s growing success (page 06); newly appointed managing partners Robert Albaral, Maurice Bellan, and Scott Brandman discuss their plans for Baker McKenzie’s Texas, Washington DC, and Miami bases (page 18); Stefan Atkinson, Aaron Marks, and Matt Solum consider the factors involved in building a top tier litigation practice at Kirkland & Ellis (page 44); and David Hashmall details Goodwin’s commitment to the new Move the Needle Fund, which aims to achieve measurable diversity goals in global law firms (page 50).

Not to be outdone, the rest of The Legal 500 team has also been hard at work, with Joe Boswell interviewing a who’s-who list of in-house counsel on the issues facing Middle East-based legal teams and how law firms can best cater to these new challenges (page 76); Barnaby Merrill reports on Estonia’s legal market, which remains stable amid growing economic uncertainty (page p118); in conversation with leading lawyers in Sweden, William Farrington provides an update on the Nordic nation’s changing legal market (page p124); and Ben Wheway deep dives into the latest UK rankings to reveal which firms came out on top in 2020, as well as answering any questions you may have about the upcoming 2021 UK research (page p112).

And if that is not enough to make you leap headlong into this February’s issue, then how about exclusive interviews with the leaders of DLA Piper in Germany (page 38), Gide Loyrette Nouel in France (page 58), Candey in London (page 64), or Cains on the Isle of Man (page 70). Still want more? Then Amanda Hamilton from the National Association of Licensed Paralegals will have you thinking about the importance of professional paralegals in your firm (page 92) and Ogier’s Ed Mackereth predicts challenges ahead for the offshore market (page 96).

As always with fivehundred, there’s all that and much more in this latest issue. I hope you enjoy this February 2020 instalment, and if you have any comments or feedback about our content or new look website then please get in touch.
See you again in March!

John van der Luit-Drummond

Coronavirus: plan ahead to maximise firm resilience

Coronavirus image

Eversheds Sutherland’s Marcello Floris, co-head of employment and pensions in Italy, provides HR advice to other law firms on how to cope with the current pandemic

The spread of the coronavirus gives rise to similar issues globally for employers: these include assessing the risks faced by their staff and professionals whilst at work and developing measures to control such risks, complying with local laws and guidance, identifying how much flexibility employers have to adapt their working arrangements to ensure business continuity, …

Sweden’s ‘one-stop-shop’ versus the ‘best-of-breed’

William Farrington looks at the latest legal market developments from the Nordic’s largest nation

Senior partner departures, lateral team hires, boutique firm establishments – these are all gold dust for Legal 500 researchers seeking to determine which are the serious players in any given legal market. I have covered some countries – such as India, Malta, and Nigeria – where these changes are few and far between. On the …

Estonia’s legal market – serene despite economic uncertainty

The Legal 500 view

Barnaby Merrill reports on the Baltic nation’s stable legal market which, despite a downturn in M&A transactions, is reaping returns from increased dispute activity across the real estate, tax, and public sectors

Estonia has maintained its strong transactional environment despite concerns over an economic downturn, with the country’s favourable regulatory environment remaining attractive for foreign and domestic businesses. Estonia’s long-standing record of low taxes and favourable regulation, combined with the country’s innovative approaches to attracting investment, such as the nation’s e-residency scheme, has long seen the Baltic …

Anand Sharma: We are distinctly different

Interview with...

Finnegan’s managing partner speaks with Helen Donegan, US editor (content), about taking on the role in July 2019, his plans and priorities, and what makes Finnegan stand out

Given your experience in having studied mechanical engineering and then working as a space engineer at NASA, why then did you decide to study law and pursue a legal career? Law was not a career track for me when I was an undergrad. I really did see myself working as an engineer and actually continuing …

Building and sustaining a top tier litigation practice

Practice management

With consistent tier 1 placement within The Legal 500 rankings, US editor (content), Helen Donegan takes a closer look at Kirkland & Ellis’ New York litigation team to find out what they attribute to this success, and what factors are involved in building a top tier litigation practice

Kirkland & Ellis benefits from a well-resourced and expert New York litigation team comprised of over 80 lawyers – including 25 partners and over 50 associates. These individuals are a key team within the overall figure of 700 Kirkland & Ellis litigators worldwide, and were described within The Legal 500’s 2019 US guide as being …

Peter Clucas: When running a firm, expect the unexpected

Interview with...

Good decisions are often not recognised as such due to poor understanding of why they are being made, says Cains’ managing director

How would you define Cains’ culture and how important is that culture to you? Although Cains is one of the longest established law firms on the Isle of Man, we are a modern and progressive firm and our culture, which I believe is unique and sets us apart from other Isle of Man law firms, …

The future of Arab law: The Arab Lawyers Forum 2020 – London

Career development

As founder and senior partner at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East, Essam Al Tamimi had played a prominent role in the Arabic-speaking legal scene for the past three decades. In 2016, he turned his attention to the lack of opportunities for younger lawyers emerging from the Arab League …

Does reputation risk mean calling time on law firm drinking?


With a number of high-profile investigations linked to excessive drinking, legal sector crisis PR specialist Gus Sellitto of Byfield Consultancy asks if it is time for law firms to sober up

In my experience, there has never such an acute awareness among law firms of the reputational damage they and their people can suffer as a result of inappropriate workplace behaviours. The latest potential threat that law firms are having to grapple with is the excessive drinking culture associated with the business of doing law and …

Making pro bono transparent

The Bar

Mary Dobson, former joint COO and head of fundraising and comms at Advocate, the Bar’s national pro bono charity, says those providing free legal advice should be more vocal about what they are doing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all barristers do pro bono. Or is it? Despite the wide variety of interesting and deserving cases, the opportunity for practice development and the fact that, unlike when doing paid work, a barrister gets to choose which cases they take on, the number of barristers undertaking work through …