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Richard Lewis and Emily Reid featured in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 list

Hogan Lovells litigation partner, Richard Lewis, and Head of Financial Services, Emily Reid, are featured in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 list, published today.

The prestigious list from leading UK legal magazine The Lawyer celebrates the most innovative and creative lawyers in the UK from private practice, in-house and the Bar.

Richard Lewis was recognised by The Lawyer for his work on complex CIS-related matters such as his ongoing work on the PrivatBank case against its former owners Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov. He has also recently picked up a major new mandate in the Kazakhstan Kagazy litigation.

The Lawyer commented: “In the UK legal market, Hogan Lovells litigation partner Richard Lewis is the go-to guy for complex CIS-related matters.”

Emily Reid heads the Hogan Lovells Financial Services practice and leads the Banking, Lending and Payments practice. Innovation has always been a significant part of Emily’s practice from her ground-breaking work on the UK’s first ever debit card to advising Zopa, the world’s first peer-to peer lender and challengers, such as Curve, on bringing their ground breaking products to market.

The Lawyer commented: “In the tech community, Reid is a fairy godmother for early-stage companies, leading a mentoring programme that each year provides 10 fintech-focused start-ups with £25,000 worth of free legal advice. In 2020, she will capitalise on that knowledge by encapsulating it into chatbots that will answer client queries automatically 24/7.”

Richard and Emily commented: “It is a privilege to be considered among the best lawyers in the UK. We are both delighted with today’s recognition.”

Shoosmiths named 2019 National Law Firm of the Year

Chairman Peter Duff and CEO Simon Boss accepted the award on behalf of Shoosmiths at a glittering ceremony that took place at Grosvenor House Hotel in London, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, TV personality and writer.

The firm was also commended in the Best Client Service Innovation category for its Elite Advisory offering and shortlisted for Krugman 2 for the Best Collaboration Initiative.

The Lawyer Awards are the leading awards initiative within the legal calendar and the largest celebration of legal excellence in Europe.

The award for National Law Firm of the Year recognises the law firm that has made the most significant progress over the past year in advancing its strategy.

Judges said about Shoosmiths’ winning submission: “This exceptional winning entry showcased record financial results alongside a raft of new innovations designed to make life better not only for the firm’s clients through innovative tech-based solutions, but also for their employees with improvements in training, knowledge sharing and diversity.”

Simon Boss said: “It’s incredibly humbling to win this award, and it’s a massive recognition for everyone at Shoosmiths that we are truly delivering on our ambitious strategy of becoming the leading UK law firm through our continual pursuit of excellent client service.

“I’d also like to congratulate our Sports Division for its well-deserved commendation and all of our team involved in the collaboration that lead to our nomination for Best Collaboration Initiative. We’ve always said that we place our clients at the heart of everything we do, and we are continually evolving and innovating in this space, delivering new methods of working that bring real added-value and tangible benefits to our clients.”

It was a night of true celebration for Shoosmiths as the firm was also recognised for its other two award submissions by being:

Shortlisted for the Best Collaboration Initiative for Krugman 2, an open, supportive and collaborative working space to think about what a client might need that Shoosmiths could help them with.

Commended in the Best Client Service Innovation for Elite Advisory, a private client advisory service to manage the affairs of professionals and entrepreneurs in sport, media and entertainment.

If you would like to find out more information, please visit https://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/

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HighQ Roundtable: GCs reveal their tech gripes

Technology and innovation are frequently spoken about with little differentiation around an increasingly populated market. GCs ability to utilise their relationships and develop new solutions to old problems can create some of the most interesting solutions on the market.

At a breakfast roundtable near London’s Liverpool Street station, The Lawyer in association with HighQ was joined by several prominent heads of legal to assess where the pain points lie and what can be done about them. The Lawyer editor Catrin Griffiths was joined by HighQ chief strategy officer Stuart Barr and National Grid global head of legal operational excellence Mo Ajaz to lead the roundtable, which frequently resulted in an all too familiar story.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Leverton, Ravn, Luminance or another platform,” says FirstPort Limited director of legal Russell Tillison. “All of these products have seemed like they’re running before they can walk in my experience.”

This is a continued gripe of lawyers, both in-house and in private practice. Technology can do amazing things and, for the most part, is taking the boring, vanilla, due diligence-related work out of legal processes. The issue is that the technology hasn’t quite reached the levels that the hype around it has. One firm’s head of innovation describes technology as, “always having that will bit in it”. The promise is perenially there, but for some, it can’t arrive soon enough.

Slow Progress

In some cases, the biggest companies can be the slowest adopters. Around the table were in-house lawyers from several companies in the FTSE100, with some acknowledging that they were in very early phases of their technological development. In some cases, they hadn’t even begun. One attendee said that four years ago, one part of their company didn’t even have email; they were just using paper order forms.

“My primary pain point would be around transparency of information, being able to extract this and reflecting it in documents in the most efficient way,” said Blackrock vice president solicitor of strategic product management Suwad Patankar. “In terms of using technology to achieve that I don’t think we have even made a start, at least not in my team.”

It is surprising to hear that a lawyer working in the world’s 10th-largest hedge fund – when ranked on value of the assets it controls with more than $6tn in its portfolio – hasn’t begun to use the kinds of technology that seem commonplace in most private practices. The experience at Blackrock represented the differing stages of legal technology adoption attendees found themselves at.

Patankar’s experience, for example, contrasted enormously to that of London Stock Exchange Group’s senior lawyer Tom Rayson who said his company has begun its process of automation and is now well on its way.

“We’re on a journey and we’ve done quite a lot of work in what we thought were the easier areas of the business,” said Rayson. “We just got DocuSign which has improved things quite a lot. That’s worked and we’ve got a good experience of that. The challenge we’ve got at the moment is trying to take this simple process that’s already been done and see how we can apply it across the board, perhaps even to more bespoke work.”

Bringing technology into more bespoke and high-end work will eventually become the norm, but it is still a significant distance from today’s reality. If Rayson can crack that answer, the London Stock Exchange will be significantly further ahead than most in their technological journey.

Corporate Hinderance

Legal technology, stated Barr, differs to more conventional technology found in corporate structures. Barr asked the room two questions; How many of you are using specific legal technology compared to variations of generic corporate technology? And how many of you feel that this hinders your work?

Everyone around the table raised their hands to the second question.

There was a general feeling that a disconnect exists between the heads of legal and those inside their businesses whose jobs it is to assist them in getting more sophisticated structures.

“Personally, I spoke to [artificial intelligence provider] Cognitive Computer Solutions on my own yesterday,” said Tillison. “There was no one from IT there, it was just me. I also spoke to Leverton on my own. They’re trying to fix the spaghetti of mess behind the scenes and they haven’t got time to come in and play with legal technology.

“My main office is in Luton and when the power gets low in the surrounding area, it gets turned off to keep the airport running. We have major IT outages and the servers actually can’t turn back on sometimes because they’re that historic. We spent £2m to upgrade our infrastructure and it is getting there, but it’s just such a big challenge.”

Tillison’s issue is exactly what Barr was talking about when he referred to a corporate structure hindering the legal function. These are exactly the kinds of situations that benefit from including a project manager whose job it is to oversee these kind of processes. But from the other side of the coin, what is the pain for someone in the project managing capacity?

Ajaz was presenting at a conference and asked his project team what they wanted from him as opposed to what he was after from them.

“I wanted to know what they wanted versus what I wanted,” said Ajaz. “One of the comments was, ‘Don’t come to me with a solution. Come to me with a problem and I’ll help you find the solution.’ We go and hear a nice little lecture somewhere and then ask for that product, but the IT guys are nowhere that product or catching up with it.”

The technology conversation is an increasingly vital one, but so is Ajaz’s point around an open conversation between those using the technology and those implementing it. There’s a valid question to be asked about where the in-house legal function would be if more of these conversations were had on a daily basis.

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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.