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!

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

illustration of opening curtains to rainbow

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

illustration of hand holding dollar sign

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 …

Do great work, get more work, repeat

Interview with: Heidi Keefe

Heidi Keefe

The astrophysicist turned patent trial lawyer on why she dislikes ‘managing expectations’, the importance of connecting with an audience, and why she compares Cooley’s lawyers to entrepreneurs

What makes a great trial lawyer? What do clients look for? I don’t think there is a single definition of a great trial lawyer, but perhaps the one thing they all have in common is an ability to captivate an audience. You have to be a storyteller, a teacher, and a motivator. Grab their attention …

GCs as the ‘ultimate integrator’

Editors’ views

photo of switzerland

EMEA editor Ella Marshall reports on reforms to Switzerland’s corporate tax regime, data protection concerns, legal tech insecurity, and Brexit spam

I recently enjoyed a whistle-stop trip to Zurich. During 49-hours on Swiss soil, I met with a number of law firms and attended The Legal 500’s 6th GC Summit Switzerland in the opulent surroundings of the Baur au Lac (lakey me). Although my time in Zurich was short and sweet, it was rich both in …

Greater than the sum of our parts

Interview with: Jessica Roland

Jessica Roland

Mourant Guernsey’s managing partner on not being tied too closely to the traditional law firm model and why leadership is a collective responsibility

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients? As managing partner of our Guernsey office, one of my proudest moments in the last few years was completing our move from old offices in two buildings to one, single site, bringing all of our people under one roof. Since early 2018 …

Avoid getting rusty

Interview with: Juan Francisco Torres Landa Ruffo

The head of Hogan Lovells’ Mexico office on the importance of managing partners avoiding isolation, leading by example, and why future lawyers will need a different skillset

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is that culture to you? Our firm’s culture is client-focused. We are dedicated to providing a seamless service, one that gives our clients a sense of excellence, depth, full expertise, and focus on their industries. We pursue long-term and mutually rewarding relationships with all our clients. …

The collaborative approach

Interview with: Sadiq Jafar

Sadiq Jafar

The managing partner of Hadef & Partners talks about the latest growth trends in the UAE and working alongside international law firms

How are client demands in the UAE changing? The UAE is a relatively young jurisdiction and, to support domestic growth, there is parallel development of laws and regulations, courts, arbitration centres and other soft infrastructure. This, together with the emergence of financial free zones, contributes to changing client demand patterns. The introduction of new legislation …