Editor's Letter

September 2019 issue front cover image

The summer holidays are but a distant memory, children have gone back to school, the weather has slowly turned, and the UK is lurching ever-closer to its latest Brexit deadline. Well, at least you can enjoy the latest issue of the fivehundred after its self-imposed break – that is, of course, assuming you find reading about the global climate crisis ‘enjoyable’.

From inspiring the school climate strike movement in more than 100 countries, to holding politicians to account on climate crisis, and her recent carbon neutral transatlantic sailboat crossing, Greta Thunberg has captivated the world with her climate change activism. The Swedish teen’s campaign for a better world has even spurred some within industry to action. In June, Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie told a conference that climate change ‘is a real and present danger that we must deal with together’, while in July, Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of BHP, pledged $400m to combat the ‘indisputable’ climate crisis.

But as Norton Rose Fulbright Australia explains, it is not just grass-roots activism that is initiating change at some of the world’s largest conglomerates and industries – investors, regulators, reputational damage, and litigation threats are all rapidly accelerating climate change-related risks to business, which ultimately means more work for lawyers (who, as an aside, must also walk the talk!). Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills argue that the crisis should also be considered a human rights issue, putting further pressure on businesses and politicians to make a meaningful change.

September also includes a host of exclusive interviews: Weil’s Tim Gardner talks about structural pressures in Hong King; Richard Kovalevsky QC explains the challenges of launching Stewarts’ financial crime practice and the difficulties facing criminal lawyers; Helen Thomas discusses her new role as European managing partner of Eversheds Sutherland; King & Wood Mallesons’ Wang Ling considers the rapid growth of Chinese law firms and staying ahead in a competitive market; while Pinheiro Neto Advogados’ Alexandre Bertoldi discusses Brazil’s economic uncertainty and why there is no magic formula for talent retention.

Also appearing in this issue, former Orrick partner Patricia K. Gillette argues that law firm structures are holding women back; Dr Bob Murray explains why some leaders are just so bad at strategic decision-making; and Atkin Chambers’ David Barnes highlights the ever-increasing talent war at the independent Bar. Sticking with the Bar we also consider the reasons partners leave Big Law for an independent life in chambers, as well as the benefits former solicitors can bring to a set.

And finally, my top picks for this month includes content from our in-house team of talented researchers: Christopher Black looks at the impact Lisa Osofsky has had on the white collar crime market one year into her tenure at the Serious Fraud Office; James Field investigates how Gibraltar has weathered Brexit uncertainty better than the UK; and, fresh from a visit to Tokyo, Arne Dumez reports on the latest trends in Japan’s legal market, which is all of a flutter ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

As always, there’s even more to discover in this month’s issue. Happy reading!

John van der Luit-Drummond

Law firm partners don’t understand strategy

Law Firm Strategy

Why is it that a chimpanzee can out-strategise a lawyer? Because science, explains Dr Bob Murray

Lately I have been interviewing a great many people for a book my partner Dr Alicia Fortinberry and I are writing. It’s about what lessons we can learn about strategy from the latest research in psychology and neurogenetics. From the interviews, the studies we have read, and our own research we have reached a number …

When you play the game of content…


What content do legal publications want from law firms? Candice Witton, content lead at Propero Partners, has the answers

In 1996, Bill Gates declared ‘content is king’. Now over two decades later, there’s really no denying the power of content marketing. Content marketing is the catch-all term for anything from how-to blogs to thought leadership editorial pieces. In this instance it refers to writing (be it legal analysis or news) featured in legal publications, …

A modern framework


Ben Bruton, dispute resolution and investigations partner at Winston & Strawn, discusses the principles of arbitration in the UAE and the wider Middle East

The UAE and the wider Middle East has always been a fascinating place for the outside world; known for its modern sophistication and exemplified by its many ground-breaking architectural and engineering achievements. Its ability to provide an environment that’s conducive for doing business is a key reason why the UAE is quickly emerging as one …

Women are ready. Is the legal industry?

Diversity and inclusion

Women lawyers don’t need fixing to become leaders, its law firm structures and systems that are holding us back, writes former Orrick partner Patricia K. Gillette

Dorothy. For most of us that name immediately evokes images of a young woman, a hurricane, and a wicked witch. Yes, The Wizard of Oz. But one image Dorothy never conjures up is that of a female leader. And yet, isn’t that exactly what Dorothy is? She takes the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly …

Postcard from Tokyo

Research roundup

Fresh from his recent Asia Pacific research trip, senior researcher Arne Dumez reports on the latest trends affecting Japan’s legal market

A stereotype it may be, but if talking about the weather was an Olympic sport, Great Britain would be sure to take home gold every four years. If one nation could knock the Brits off top spot, however, it may just be Japan. This year’s research trip coincided with the end of a long, drawn-out …

Does the SFO lack bite?

Research roundup

With publication of the new UK white collar crime rankings looming, researcher Christopher Black looks into one of the market’s major talking points

Is the UK heading towards a US-style justice system? That is the question many of London's white collar crime experts have been pondering ever since former FBI lawyer Lisa Osofsky was appointed head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in August 2018. A dual US/UK national, Osofsky’s experience includes pursuing the mafia, bank robbers, fraudsters, …

How climate change affects fundamental human rights

The Big Issue

The scientific, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change are not the only aspects of the crisis we need to consider, say Dr Georgios Zampas and Oliver Elgie

Seventy-one years have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations in the aftermath of the Second World War. Yet, human rights violations remain all too frequent, both in developed and developing countries. While the 1926 Slavery Convention confirmed that slavery is unlawful as a matter of international …

Gibraltar’s lawyers: Between the rock and a hard Brexit?

Research roundup

With the start of the EMEA research, James Field looks at the British overseas territory, its legal market, and the possible impact of the UK’s exit from the EU

While 2019 saw America’s most beloved Rock named Hollywood’s highest earner, the territory known for housing Europe’s most famous rock continues its equally successful run of financial good fortune. Gibraltar, still primarily regarded for its shipping trade, offshore banking, and position as an international conference centre, has profited from an innovative approach to emerging markets …

There is a war for talent

The Bar

Atkin Chambers’ David Barnes talks to Bar editor John van der Luit-Drummond about the ever-increasing movement of barristers, why good clerks are in demand, wellbeing in chambers, and why the Bar can’t afford to rest on its laurels

How have the roles of senior clerk and chief executive changed/evolved during your time in chambers? Roles have had to evolve in response to the changes in the commercial environment in which barristers’ chambers operate. I started my career in the early 1980s and at that time there were no titles such as CEO. The …