Editor's Letter

July / August issue front cover image

Inspirational and often unattributed quotes about the importance of customer service are a dime a dozen online, especially on LinkedIn where the same old ‘profound’ statements (yes, those are sarcastic quote marks) are posted again and again by deep thinkers intent on selling themselves or their product as far and wide as their contact list will take them. Nevertheless, one quote posted on the social network has stuck with me: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Occasionally, I will still hear a solicitor or barrister rail against the practice of law as a business or service, rather than the ‘higher calling’ vocation of yesteryear. The vast majority of lawyers, however, understand the importance of nailing customer service in a competitive marketplace. It is a given that a partner at a top firm, or a silk in a leading chambers, can provide clients with an explanation of relevant law, but – and our research reinforces this – clients increasingly want value add for the money you bill them. For your firm or set, that just might be exceptional client service.

That’s a long-winded way of introducing this summer’s issue of fivehundred which has a special focus on the client care. Georgina Stanley explains how a major new research project from The Legal 500 has identified those firms making client service a key differentiator; Eversheds Sutherland’s Marcello Floris warn fellow partners not to overlook the basics of client service; while from the client side, Marriott Asia Pacific’s Law Department offers an in-house view on what firms can do better to become trusted, long-term business partners ; and, I explain how client feedback affects your rankings.

The July/August issue also continues our look at diversity, and as it’s Pride season what better time to look at LGBT+ inclusion in Big Law. Amy Ulliott speaks to representatives of Pinsent Masons, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Baker McKenzie – the three highest ranked law firms in Stonewall’s best employers for LGBT+ people in 2019 – on how their firms have championed equality in the workplace.

When it comes to gender diversity, Loyens & Loeff’s Mijke Sinninghe Damsté explains how she had to prove she was still capable and ambitious enough for partnership following the birth of her first child, while Georgina Stanley reports on how some old-school partners, wedded to the status quo, have been far from receptive to The Legal 500’s efforts to recognise more of the best female lawyers.

We also hear about Kirkland & Ellis’ firm-wide trial advocacy and litigation attorney training programme, which prepares associates for all the courtroom can throw at them, while the leaders of K&L Gates, Payne Hicks Beach, Crowell & Moring, Galicia Abogados, and Zang, Bergel & Viñes Abogados explain what makes their firms standout in their respective markets.

And don’t worry, chambers, we haven’t forgotten about you!  Steven Gee QC explains why he returned to the independent Bar and what he learnt from operating in the law firm environment; Andrew Spink reflects on COMBAR’s recent key achievements and talks about the challenges ahead for the commercial Bar; and senior clerk Joe Ferrigno explains how he has future-proofed Essex Court Chambers’ clerking function.

The team is now off for a well-deserved summer break but we’ll be back in September with more free, exclusive content from the best lawyers, firms, and chambers worldwide. See you then!

John van der Luit-Drummond

Client Service Awards – What clients really want

Editors' views

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, client service can be a key differentiator for law firms. Georgina Stanley explains how a major new research project from The Legal 500 has set out to identify those making the best impression

Stewarts, Mishcon de Reya, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges have emerged among the top-performing law firms for client service in the UK, according to brand new Legal 500 research assessing what clients really think about their external advisers. The trio are among a host of leading US and UK firms to have been recognised by …

Gracefully tooting your own horn to partnership


The co-chairs of Latham & Watkins’ Chicago litigation and trial department, Terra Reynolds and Eric R. Swibel, talk about their route to practice management, law firm culture, and some best practice advice on making partnership

To give some background, please give us an overview of your career trajectories to this point? Terra Reynolds: I started out in government and served for more than a decade as an assistant US attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, eventually becoming deputy chief. In that role, I tried more than a dozen federal …

Never overlook the basics of client service

Client Services

Marcello Floris, co-head of employment and pensions at Eversheds Sutherland in Italy, on the importance of managing clients’ expectations and utilising a common sense approach to legal practice

A law firm provides an array of services, ranging from consultancy to drafting of documents, to assistance in litigation, to name but a few. The reputation of a firm is deeply grounded in the quality of services it provides its clients. Many firms coach their partners on the notion of delivering excellence in client service, …

Being your true self at work

Diversity and inclusion

Office Merger cover image

This Pride season, The Legal 500’s Amy Ulliott spoke to representatives of three UK law firms to find out how they have championed equality at home and abroad, and what advice they would give other firms yet to embrace an openly inclusive environment

From Brunei to the UK, the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in society has rarely been out of the news in recent months. In April, Brunei introduced new legislation making sodomy an offence punishable by death, with lesbian sex now subject to corporal punishment and/or ten years imprisonment. In May, Kenya’s …

Your clients are your biggest cheerleaders, and critics

Editors' views

Asia Pacific editor John van der Luit-Drummond explains the weight placed on client feedback and how to maximise your firm’s coverage in the next rankings

And… time’s up! The submission process for The Legal 500’s Asia Pacific 2020 guide is now closed. To all firms across the 25 jurisdictions we cover, thank you for contributing to this year’s research. Over the last few weeks, a number of firms have sought clarification over the factors we consider when rankings practices and …

Creating trial-ready lawyers

Training and education

San Francisco-based litigation partner Jim Basile gives fivehundred the lowdown on the Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy, a firm-wide trial advocacy and litigation attorney training programme that prepares associates for all a courtroom can throw at them

Please give us brief history and overview of the programme. Kirkland & Ellis started the Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy, or KITA, programme 41 years ago. It is the largest, most comprehensive litigation training programme at any firm. It emphasises core trial skills and becomes more complex as associates advance. In more detail, what does …

Back at the Bar

The Bar

After five years away, Steven Gee QC explains why he has returned to the independent Bar and what he learnt from operating in the law firm environment

In March 2019 I joined Monckton Chambers having spent five years in independent practice as a QC and a partner at litigation boutique Joseph Have Aaronson from December 2014. I have been in practice at the Bar since 1976 and was head of chambers at Stone Chambers in Gray’s Inn for 15 years before joining …

Iberian nights (and days)

Editors' views

Continuing her European tour, EMEA editor Ella Marshall reflects on Ronaldo, cherrypicking, and changing networking practices in Portugal

Last month, I spent some time in Lisbon to attend the GC Powerlist Iberia (Portugal) and meet with several law firms ahead of The Legal 500’s next EMEA guide. For the converted, I don’t need to proselytise on what a fantastic city Portugal’s capital is, something that has been recognised by the many multinational companies …

How to stand out within a sea of sameness


In an increasingly competitive international marketplace, David H. Freeman considers what it takes for law firms to truly differentiate themselves

While differentiation is a process, a solid culture is the defining characteristic of any organisation. And make no mistake, your firm has a culture; whether authored by you or not. Anthropologist Philip Folsom will tell you that any ‘tribe’ or group collective develops its own working style. Successful tribes/organisations craft a culture based on two …