Editor's Letter

June issue front cover image

How will ‘Brexit turmoil’ affect the UK legal market? As Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris announce plans to launch English language common law courts, and Dubai, Singapore, and New York also look to capitalise on the UK’s divorce from the EU, it’s a question London-based firms must carefully consider if they are to future proof their litigation and arbitration practices.

Following London International Disputes Week in May, Clyde & Co.’s Peter Hirst believes Brexit may actually help the capital stay ahead of other jurisdictions intent on taking its crown. Writing in this month’s big issue, the co-chair of the firm’s global arbitration group argues that London can continue to compete as long as it institutes reforms where necessary and doesn’t rest on its laurels. Do you agree?

Sticking with the disputes theme, Dorothy Cory-Wright, the new head of disputes at Dechert, gives the lowdown on the biggest challenges facing US firms in London, while Robert Coffey and Sinead O’Callaghan explain how litigation boutique Cooke Young & Keidan has needed to evolve as the flood of complex post-crash financial litigation subsided.

Moving across the pond, Cooley partner Heidi Keefe reveals what makes a great trial lawyer and what she would change about litigation. Conversely, Baker McKenzie’s Chicago-based Kyle Richard Olson explains why not all litigators make great arbitration specialists.

Speaking of the US, with our latest rankings freshly released, US deputy editor Ian Deering breaks down which firms came out ahead in 2019, and Laura Pollard highlights how litigation funders are increasingly offering funding arrangements to defendant firms, rather than traditional plaintiff firms.

Elsewhere, in our leadership focus, Georgios Zampas explains how Herbert Smith Freehills is doing its bit to tackle the climate crisis, and drawing comparisons with Uber’s disruption of the taxi industry, Oz Benamram, White & Case’s chief knowledge officer, discusses how digitisation is set to revolutionise Big Law.

We also hear from the managing partners of Hogan Lovells Mexico, Juan Francisco Torres Landa Ruffo, and Mourant Guernsey, Jessica Roland, on firm management; Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz’s Tanya Forsheit and James Mariani talks about the evolution of US privacy law; Travers Smith’s head of pensions, Daniel Gerring, advises how law firms can be more LGBT+ inclusive; and Outer Temple Chambers’ new chief executive Rebecca Priestley, reveals what clients really want from their lawyers.

As always, there’s all that and more in the latest fivehundred. Don’t forget, contributions are welcome from ranked and profiling firms, so if you would like to appear in a future issue then please get in touch. Until next time!

Moving towards compliance in ambiguous times



Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz’s Tanya Forsheit and James Mariani explore the evolution of US privacy law

As we stand on the eve of drastic change to the data privacy legal landscape in the United States, many companies are preparing to analyse their business practices and wondering where to start. There is considerable ambiguity regarding what compliant data privacy practices look like in 2020 due, at least in part, to one moving …

From Uber to Lawber


White & Case’s chief knowledge officer, Oz Benamram on how digital transformation may change the legal industry

As the legal ecosystem grows more complex with alternative providers, law companies, sophisticated tech, and growing legal departments within client organisations, now is a good time to consider potential scenarios of how the industry might look in years to come. I recently spoke about one of these scenarios at an industry conference, drawing parallels from …

Lawyers, know your tech


Don’t get hung up on product name, focus on the match to your business requirements, writes Roy Russell, CEO of Ascertus Limited

Given the amount of technology systems corporate legal departments and law firms deploy, the actual use of those solutions are often limited by organisations’ apparent understanding of the description of the systems or indeed the functional requirement they implemented the products for. There are so many point solutions that law firms and in-house legal departments …

Where next for London as a disputes centre?

The Big Issue: Disputes

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The capital must not rest on its laurels, as other innovative disputes hubs seek to take advantage of Brexit, writes Peter Hirst, partner and co-chair of Clyde & Co.’s global arbitration group

The first London International Disputes Week took place in May and successfully served to highlight why London is likely to remain a leading international disputes hub in the years to come – a huge concentration of talent across disputes disciplines, a favourable, popular and flexible legal system, the power of the English language, and much …

Evolve or get swallowed up

The Big Issue: Disputes

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Robert Coffey, managing partner, and Sinead O’Callaghan, partner, of Cooke Young & Keidan consider what is next for litigation boutiques

The financial crash inevitably influenced the legal market and we saw, in the UK and the US particularly, a rise in law firms adapting to serve this changing landscape and increasing levels of banking litigation. Conflicts were one the biggest drivers behind the emergence of the boutiques – Magic Circle firms were not best placed …

Knowing what clients want and what winds them up

The Bar

Rebecca Priestly

As highlighted in previous issues of fivehundred, the backgrounds and experiences of chambers chief executives are broad and varied; they come from the traditional clerking ranks, the armed forces, the public sector, education, marketing and advertising, and, yes, the legal profession itself. Rebecca Priestley comes from the latter, but unlike her contemporaries she has held …

Don’t be afraid of ‘coming out’

Diversity and inclusion

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As part of Pride Season, Daniel Gerring, head of pensions at Travers Smith and a founding members of The Law Society LGBT+ Lawyers Division Committee, shares his thoughts on the progress of inclusion in the legal profession

How would you rate the legal profession on LGBT+ inclusion? What more needs to be done? We have made enormous strides on rights for and attitudes towards LGBT+ people over recent years and I feel incredibly lucky to be living in the UK at this time. But challenges remain. A random sample might include: outright …

Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis lead the pack

Editors’ views

US rankings editor Ian Deering deep dives into the brand new United States rankings to highlight the best performing firms of the past 12 months

Chalk up another completed guide. Now in our 12th year covering the US market, The Legal 500 United States has matured and expanded in line with its impending teens, with well over 300 leading firms earning a ranking in the 2019 guide. The past year saw some significant firm mergers, partner moves, and, on our …

Ready for take-off

Interview with: Dorothy Cory-Wright

The former barrister, now Dechert’s head of disputes in London, talks about her firm’s recent growth, lateral hires, cost control in litigation, and peer recognition

What have been your greatest personal/professional achievements to date and why? Professionally, the many cases where we made new law, seeing the inner workings of a great banking institution through advising the Monitor on HSBC, and leading the investigation for the FIA stewards into Crashgate at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix; uncovering what The Times …

Is funding defendants the future of disputes?

Editors’ views

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Litigation funding has secured a place in the US disputes landscape, yet questions remain about the benefits – and future – of third-party involvement, writes Laura Pollard

Despite initial reluctance from corporates and law firms, litigation funding has become a more accepted feature of the US commercial litigation landscape, although it has only been largely embraced by plaintiffs thus far. That, however, may be about to change as funders are expected to step up their pursuit of defendants. Litigation funders provide all …