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!

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 …

Jan Hofkens: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Interview with...

Jan Hofkens

Lydian’s employment, pensions, and benefits partner on what sets his firm apart in the Belgium market and the challenges facing his clients

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability? In a law firm, it is all about teamwork and people. You can only deliver high quality services to your clients when you have a strong team of experienced and talented lawyers around you. I am very proud of the team of 17 …

Reasons to go green


Raising awareness, engaging with your people, and changing behaviours can help improve your environmental performance, explains Dr Georgios Zampas, senior citizenship executive at Herbert Smith Freehills

At Herbert Smith Freehills, we recognise that everyone has a part to play in balancing our growth as a business with reducing our impact on the environment. We have a responsibility to align our approach to sustainability across all of the offices in our network and our intention is to create – and be part …

Think international arbitration is ‘soft’ litigation? Think again

Career corner

illustration of bridge between heads

Litigators who yearn for the rough and tumble of the local courtroom are not necessarily the best fit for international arbitrations, writes Kyle Richard Olson, senior associate disputes resolution lawyer at Baker McKenzie Chicago

Before becoming a lawyer I assumed that arbitration was a lesser man’s litigation, an academic exercise kept behind the curtains. I was wrong. After a decade practising international arbitration, I’ve learned that no two arbitrations are the same; each requires its own thorough and creative approach to the intellectual aspects of the case, balanced with …

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 …