Editor's Letter

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

Tim Gardner: Belief in a single-minded focus

Interview with...

The managing partner of Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Hong Kong office talks about structural pressures, predictions for Asia’s financial hub, the link between talent retention and transparency, and how a ping pong table helps bring his team together

How would you define your firm’s culture, and how important is that culture to you? Weil has been and continues to be a first-mover in partnering with clients to understand the full picture of their needs and help them achieve strategic goals; as a pioneer in numerous fields such as restructuring, private equity, patent litigation, …

Exchanging places

The Bar

Steven Fennell, company and insolvency specialist,
Exchange Chambers (Call 2014; Solicitor 1996)

My route into law started with a training contract in 1994. Before then, I completed a postgraduate degree and taught at a university for a few years. I decided to go into practice because academia wasn’t as interesting or rewarding as I thought it would be and even then, the system seemed to be offering …

Richard Kovalevsky QC: We are in for a buoyant period

Interview with...

Stewarts’ head of financial crime talks trading chambers for a law firm environment, the challenges ahead for the criminal Bar, and the current trends in financial crime

Why did you decide to leave the independent Bar and 2 Bedford Row to become a partner at Stewarts? At the Bar, I was involved in many large cases working as part of a large legal team. Over time, I realised that I enjoyed running these teams and empowering the other professionals I worked with. …

Making a successful transition

The Bar

Bill Braithwaite QC, head of Exchange Chambers

For many years there has been talk about the amalgamation of the solicitors’ and barristers’ professions; a fused profession, a one-stop shop, and so on. It seems to have gone quiet at the moment, but maybe that’s because it’s happening stealthily! Some of our most successful barristers (over 10%) are former solicitors, and it’s fascinating …

Helen Thomas: Without a planet, all this tech is pointless

Interview with...

Eversheds Sutherlands’ European managing partner talks about her new role, continental growth, cultural alignment, and challenges facing the real estate world

What are you planning to focus on in your new role as European managing partner? This is a really exciting time to take on this role. Eversheds Sutherland is going through a period of growth and investment across our European business. For example, in Germany and the Netherlands in the past six months we have …

Alexandre Bertoldi: Every plan is a big bet

Interview with...

Pinheiro Neto Advogados’ managing partner discusses Brazil’s economic uncertainty, how technology is forcing lawyers out of their comfort zone, and why there is no magic formula for talent retention

How would you define your firm’s culture? The most important thing in a firm is culture because it is a singular factor in these days of greater dissemination of knowledge and access to national and international good practices. We have a distinct culture because we are both traditional and modern at the same time, and …

Cimate change risks now front and centre

The Big Issue

Increasing investor, regulatory, and community pressure is rapidly accelerating climate change related risks to business, write Elisa de Wit and law graduate Francis Meehan

The ‘School Strike for Climate’ movement, spearheaded by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, appears to have mobilised the sense of urgency around climate change, and as recently stated by BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie: ‘As we have seen from activism and debates from schools to parliaments all around the world, we see this period as an escalation …

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…

Marketing

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, …