Editor's Letter

November 2019 issue front cover

How time flies when you’re having fun. A year ago this month, fivehundred was born. Over the last 12 months
we have published more than 300 articles from over 200 law firms, barristers’ chambers, and consultants, while our in-house team of experienced editors and researchers have produced in excess of 100 in-depth reports and interviews with some of the world’s leading lawyers. The last ten issues of thought leadership and market insight have reached approximately 50,000 lawyers worldwide each month, providing each reader with the inside track on what makes the world’s elite law firms and chambers successful across numerous jurisdictions. And all of that for free.

With 2020 fast approaching, it’s time to look to the future of fivehundred. Earlier this month we launched our first regional supplement, which focuses on the offshore legal world, and more focuses are being developed – stay tuned for more news soon! We will also soon be moving to a new web platform making it even easier for you to read and share your favourite articles on the go. And while feedback on the last ten issues has been extremely positive, we are not resting on our laurels. We want to know more about what you think about fivehundred. If you have comments about anything we’ve published or believe there is a topic we should be covering, then please get in touch so you can help shape the future direction of this magazine.

But what about this November issue? Well, this month we are focusing on leadership – both current and future. First, we consider what actually makes a good leader, with Patrick J. McKenna sharing eight ‘truths’ to those currently occupying law firm c-suites and those that aspire to lead them. Next, how do you foster a culture of empowerment within your firm? Greenberg Traurig’s Ted Blum has the answers. Also looking to the future, Philippa Ward, founding member of Pinsent Masons’ Spark Board, explains how her firm’s latest initiative will bring a new perspective to strategic decision-making. And, from the Latin America perspective, Demarest Advogados’ Andoni Hernandez Bengoa talks generational transition and the real value of cultural diversity.

We also look at Street Law’s Legal Diversity Pipeline Programs, which aim to promote the law as a career among US high school students from diverse backgrounds, creating future leaders in the US, while, in the UK, Essex Court Chambers’ Richard Hoyle explains how the millennial mindset is changing commercial sets, and a selection of leading chambers reveal how they are making a difference with various CSR initiatives.

Elsewhere in this issue, HFW’s Helen Verrier reflects on her career as one of the few female Australian lawyers qualified to practice in Papua New Guinea; Helen Donegan speaks to DreamHost’s Chris Ghazarian about his transition to GC, taking on the DoJ, and why lawyers are ‘blockers’; and Deborah B. Farone highlights the importance of partner collaboration in business development and marketing initiatives.

That’s just a little to whet your appetite in the latest fivehundred. We’ll be back next month for our double December/January issue. See you then!

John van der Luit-Drummond

Sparking a new movement?

The Big Issue: Leadership

Philippa Ward, solicitor and founding member of the Spark Board, explains her firm’s new initiative and how it will bring a new perspective to strategic decision-making at Pinsent Masons

In the summer of 2018 I heard Richard Foley, our senior partner, speak about how diversity of thought improves the quality of decision making. Perhaps somewhat bravely, I approached him and asked, ‘how can we better embrace this value at Pinsent Masons?’ I suggested what I then thought to be the solution: a junior board. …

The real value of cultural diversity

The Big Issue: Leadership

Law firms must better connect with clients and deliver up to their high standards based on best international practices, says Demarest’s Andoni Hernandez Bengoa

I admit that when I first discussed the opportunity of joining Demarest, I was surprised by their approach and by the interest from one of the leading local – and most traditional – Brazilian law firms in bringing on board a foreign lawyer with an international career. It is true that I had been in …

How plans can change for the better

Career corner

One of the few Australian female lawyers qualified to practice in Papua New Guinea, HFW’s Helen Verrier was admitted as a lawyer of the Pacific nation’s Supreme Court in 2018. Here she reflects on her career to date and what she has learned from working in this resource-rich nation of just 8 million people

The thing that surprises many people about me is my experience as a lawyer in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Looking at my career with fresh-out-of-law-school eyes, I’d be pretty surprised myself. Opportunities early in my career led to a less-than-common legal qualification and a keen professional and personal interest in PNG. When I joined Blake …

Knowledge management needs redefinition, not reinvention


Alex Smith, global product management lead for iManage RAVN, outlines the evolution of knowledge management and explains why it needs redefinition in the modern legal world

Knowledge management (KM) brings the phrase ‘what’s old is new’ to mind. As a concept, KM is at least 30 years old in the legal sector, and yet there’s newfound excitement for it in the industry within both law firms and new entrants in the ecosystem. Historically, the discipline has been driven by the need …

The US is not alone in the battle against bribery

Practice spotlight

The chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission has said his country is the only one tackling bribery and corruption. Syedur Rahman of Rahman Ravelli highlights why that is not entirely accurate

As business crime-related claims go, the one made by the chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a pretty big one. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton chose a speech to the New York Economic Club to argue that the US was pretty much going it alone when it comes to punishing bribery and …

A generation that thinks differently

The Bar

From the importance of gender diversity and social mobility to support for pro bono work, Essex Court Chambers’
Richard Hoyle explains how the millennial mindset is
changing the commercial Bar

‘Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t …

Chambers’ social responsibility

The Bar

UK Bar editor John van der Luit-Drummond talks to five sets about their various CSR initiatives – what works, why they do it, and the challenges they face

Chambers’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives cover a number of different areas, including access to the profession and equality and diversity, as well as initiatives focusing on staff health, environmental sustainability, ethical business practices, and charitable causes. A successful CSR programme can have far-reaching effects, not only for the reputation of a chambers, but also …

Entrepreneurial marketing

The Bar

Georgina MacLellan, business development manager at 4 New Square, discusses her chambers’ recently launched podcast and looking beyond the traditional marketing tool-box

Chambers has recently launched the ‘Analysis: Commercial Dispute Resolution and life at the Bar’ podcast. How did the idea of this podcast come about? There are two arms to our podcast – recent developments in commercial law and life at the Bar. The idea was initially born out of a desire to reach our international …

Building diversity into the legal talent pipeline

Diversity and inclusion

In a series of forthcoming articles, fivehundred will feature a selection of legal diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives from the US, highlighting the efforts of the law firms and GCs we work with in an effort to draw attention to the work being done in this area and hopefully inspire others to get involved. This inaugural article in the series focuses on promoting the law as a career amongst high school students from diverse backgrounds

Street Law’s Legal Diversity Pipeline Programs The legal teams seeking to make the most progress in terms of diversifying their talent pool are taking a multi-pronged approach in targeting diversity initiatives to recruit, retain, and promote individuals from different diversity backgrounds, while complementing this by addressing diversity at different career stages – or pre-career stage …

Collaboration: An essential key to successful business development


Deborah Brightman Farone, founder of Farone Advisors LLC and former Cravath, Swaine & Moore CMO, highlights the importance of partner collaboration in law firm business development and marketing initiatives

A law firm leader recently asked me what it is that separates successful firms from the uber-successful, superstar firms – those that seem to grow exponentially, retain greater profits, and solidify decades-long large-scale client engagements. She asked what I see when I contrast the behaviour of those two types of firms. The challenge is that …