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Oxford and Cambridge top the list of best universities in the world

The UK is still home to the top two universities in the world, according to the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Oxford University is on top for the third consecutive year, while Cambridge keeps its second best position for the second year in a row.

However, UK is no longer the second most-represented nation in the rankings. Despite the UK having 98 institutions in the full list of 1,258, it loses its spot to Japan which claims 103 positions. The UK does however retain its status as second most-represented in the top 200.

The US’s Stanford University completes the top three, maintaining it position from last year. The US still leads the way as most-represented with 172 institutions in the list.

This year’s ranking see the University of Dundee and Royal Holloway slipping out of the global 200.

China’s new top university, Tsinghua, claims 25th spot, and overtakes the UK’s LSE for, which falls one spot to 26, and the University of Edinburgh which drops from joint 27 to 29.

There are a number of climbers in the UK, with University College London rising two spots to number 14, and the University of Warwick scaling 12 places to joint 79th.

The University of Birmingham jumps 25 positions to joint 116, while the University of Aberdeen leaps 27 positions to 158th.

Phil Baty, editorial director of the global rankings, said: ‘We see some individual stars in the UK this year, but the broader national data story is really one of stagnation and modest decline, with the UK taking a minor hit to its research reputation.

‘We can only speculate at this stage as to any connection with Brexit, the risk, however, to the UK’s reputation and research capabilities from its separation with Europe is very real.

‘The ground-breaking work of UK universities mustn’t be undermined by complacency and politicking.

‘To ensure they continue to thrive on the global stage, positive immigration and investment policies are crucial.

They must be free to attract and retain the very best international talent and international students post-Brexit, and they must be protected from cuts, the flow of research funding and academic talent mustn’t be impacted.

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Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave enter merger talks

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) and Bryan Cave have entered into preliminary merger negotiations.

BLP managing partner Lisa Mayhew said: “Our two firms share a strong commitment to innovation in the interests of our clients. We also have an unusually strong cultural fit with a mutual focus on collaboration across our businesses in the interests of deep and lasting client relationships. It is encouraging for the potential firm that BLP and Bryan Cave both have this complementary heritage, but crucially also share the same ambitions for the future.”

Bryan Cave chair Therese Pritchard said: “If we combine we will operate without regard to geographic boundaries. Our firm would be one of only a handful of global firms operating in a one-firm structure with more than 500 lawyers in both the US and also internationally. We will seamlessly provide counsel to clients across the globe, deliver client service at a new level and use technology and innovation to redefine efficiency in the practice of law.”

A merger would create a firm of around 582 partners and $989.5m (£744m) in annual turnover, and would gift BLP with an additional 13 partners in London. The firm would have 32 offices in 12 countries and a platform of 1,200 lawyers.

In the latest UK 200 report, Berwin Leighton Paisner’s figures showed a 7 per cent rise from £254m to £272m in 2016/17, but the firm also saw its average profit per equity partner (PEP) fall by almost 8 per cent to £630,000. BLP did not provide net profit but The Lawyer estimated this at £50.4m, based on 80 full equity partners on an average of £630,000.

Meanwhile, Bryan Cave’s LLPs for the 2016 period show a 32 per cent increase in revenue from €4.8m to €6.4m, generated by an average of nine equity partners, up from seven in 2015.

BLP’s global RPL stood at $561,000 compared to Bryan Cave’s $699,000, The Lawyer’s Global 200 report shows. Revenue per partner stood at $1.6m (£1.2m) and $1.9m (£1.4m) respectively.

The firm’s merged revenue would put it below King & Spalding ($1.06bn) and above Squire Patton Boggs ($983.1m) at number 35 in the Global 200.

Both firm’s practice mix is interesting: real estate is BLP’s largest practice area with 68 partners, followed by corporate (37) and litigation (27). These are also the three most important practice areas at Bryan Cave, although the order is different: litigation with 122 partners, followed by corporate with 86 and real estate with 48.