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, …

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 …

Dr. Benjamin Parameswaran: It would be short-sighted to limit innovation to just tech and tools

Interview with...

The managing partner of DLA Piper in Germany talks about his firm’s recent growth, the competition for talent, and looking out for the next big trend

Dr Parameswaran, you joined the firm almost a decade ago and have been managing partner for six years. In your opinion, what’s changed most within that time? Having started as a greenfield operation in Germany only 15 years ago without building on a legacy firm, we are now very well established in the German legal …

The UK Legal 500 2020 – which law firms made the best impression?

The Legal 500 view

Ben Wheway looks at the firms that secured the most new rankings and moves up last year

With the submissions deadline for the next Legal 500 UK guide fast approaching, and with lawyers and BD professionals across the country busy crafting their case for a move up the rankings, it seems as good a time as any to look back at the firms that were most successful last time around. Almost 400 …

Stéphane Puel: The ties that bind a partnership

Interview with...

The managing partner of Gide Loyrette Nouel talks about the importance of collaborative partners, establishing an Innovation Commission, and investing in your top talent

How would you define your firm’s culture? Gide has always been a pioneer on the market: for instance, we were the first French firm to set up in Brussels in 1967. Agility is also part of our culture; we have always adapted to our client’s needs with our unique platform of diverse practices and specialties. …

Under new management

Interview with...

Helen Donegan, US editor (content) at The Legal 500 speaks with Baker McKenzie’s US managing partners about their new appointments since July 2019, plans for their offices, and how these fit with client needs and existing managing partner responsibilities

Can you provide a brief overview of the office(s) you manage? Bobby Albaral: I was appointed managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office in 2017, then in July 2019 – as we combined the Dallas and Houston offices into one collaborative Texas team – I was appointed the Texas office managing partner. Baker McKenzie has …

Ashkhan Candey: It’s like being at a zoo but only hanging out with the gorillas

Interview with...

Candey’s managing partner talks about the culture of a disputes-only firm, the challenges and opportunities facing litigation boutiques, robot armies, and why it’s important for a leader to retain their humanity and humour

For readers who don’t know you or Candey well, please provide us with a brief history of you and your firm. Founded in 2009, we have grown into an international litigation boutique of 25 fee earners. We are a mix of solicitors and barristers undertaking large scale multi-million pound global and cross-border litigation with a …

The forgotten legal professionals

Paralegals are not going away, so why not make use of them, argues Amanda Hamilton, CEO of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals

For a top legal firm, productivity and profitability are probably the two main concerns for the business. All the more reason to consider the value of paralegals and what they can do for you. Paralegals are emergent as the go-to profession for the assistance they can give to consumers, but the value that the paralegal …

Competing against the best in the US

Law firm management

Evan Cohen cover photo

With consistent tier 1 status in The Legal 500 rankings within the areas of finance, REITs, and tax in the US guide, and banking, M&A, and projects in the Latin America guide, Helen Donegan, US editor (content) at The Legal 500, recently sat down with Evan Cohen to take a closer look at the strategy behind the growing success of Clifford Chance’s US team

When you’re asked to lead a region identified as the top strategic priority for one of the world’s largest globally integrated firms, you are faced with two distinct but intertwined challenges: supporting your firm’s global ambitions while also developing a domestic strategy that addresses the challenges unique to your local market. It’s no easy task. …