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

Lawyers are blockers; leaders are closers

The client side

In a series of interviews with some of the top GCs across the US, fivehundred provides insights into the priorities and motivations of the influential in-house lawyers who are included in The Legal 500’s 2019 United States GC Powerlist

For this month’s interview, Helen Donegan, US Editor (Content), speaks to DreamHost’s Chris Ghazarian about his transition to the position of GC, the evolution of the in-house role, what he wants from outside counsel, and taking on the Department of Justice Helen Donegan: To start off, can you tell me about your current role and …

Per M. Ristvedt: The benefits of being ‘first’

Interview with...

The Oslo-based partner and head of dispute resolution talks about the recent Schjødt-Hamilton merger that is set to create a one-stop for clients in Scandinavia

As a business, how has Schjødt evolved since you have been at the firm? What has changed most over the years in Schjødt is that there is a need for the firm to be organised and run in an optimised manner, since the response time in regards to many of the assignments are often quite …

How to empower and encourage your employees

The Big Issue: Leadership

Ted Blum, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office and chair of the firm’s Atlanta Corporate Practice, outlines five ways to foster a culture of empowerment within your organisation

Most companies recognise that employee empowerment is a critical component of an organisation’s long-term success. Giving employees a certain degree of autonomy often leads to new ideas and innovation and, simply put, trying out new things is always a worthwhile experiment. Yet, developing a culture that supports empowerment is often easier said than done. This …

Marta Colomar-Garcia: Diversity is our strength

Interview with...

Diaz, Reus & Targ’s administrative managing partner shares her candid thoughts on her work, the impact of diversity, and what she thinks sets them apart

As administrative managing partner you lead the administration of Diaz Reus’ 27 global offices. Can you tell me a bit more about how you came to be in the role? I have had this title for two and a half years now. I started as an associate at Diaz Reus in 2009. When I started …

The firm leadership truths we don’t talk about


Patrick J. McKenna, internationally recognised author and advisor to the leaders of premier legal businesses, outlines eight truths of leadership arising from his extensive work with past and present law firm leaders

The very concept of leadership is elusive and tricky. Every business-book author coins a new ‘type’ which is then sold as the latest elixir to problems. We see these everywhere: authentic leadership, transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, etc. It is hard to define leadership in a way that is satisfactory to everyone, although most professionals tell …

Spotlight on: Kirkland & Ellis – tax on the rise

Practice Spotlight

Kirkland’s Tax Practice Group has risen from Tier 3 to Tier 1 in The Legal 500 United States rankings for ‘International Tax’ between 2017 and 2019. US Editor (content), Helen Donegan, speaks with team partner Dean Shulman about the their rise in the rankings, and also asks about Kirkland’s lateral hire practices

Helen Donegan: Can you provide a brief overview of your tax practice group? Dean Shulman: We have developed one of the finest transactional tax practices across all our US offices, as well as in London and Munich. As of the end of September 2019 we have 132 lawyers in the tax practice firmwide, whereas in …

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 …