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

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 …

Wang Ling: Dare to tackle new areas

Interview with...

King & Wood Mallesons China’s managing partner talks ensuring continuity of client service, taking a people-oriented approach in management, and says associates must stay hungry and foolish to make partner

How would you define your firm’s culture? How important is firm culture to you? If I had to summarise our culture in one word it would be collaboration. By that I mean not only collaboration internally and with clients, but also with other professionals, including from other law firms. Client-centric, commitment and dedication, collaboration and …

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 …