NHS drops 11 firms from streamlined commercial panel

NHS Commercial Solutions has rolled out a new legal panel, with firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Clyde & Co and DAC Beachcroft winning places. The three firms have been reappointed to the procurement organisation’s framework, as well as Mills & Reeve and Trowers & Hamlins. A total of 19 firms have made it on to the new roster; new additions are Browne Jacobson, Sintons, […]

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The 60 second interview: The GC’s challenge is “doing more for less”

In our latest 60 second interview, Brewin Dolphin head of legal Alissa Foale talks to The Lawyer about her function’s biggest challenges, necessary skills to successfully manage change and how she thinks financial services will transform in the coming years ahead of her session at this year’s In-house Financial Services conference.

How do you think the financial services industry will transform within the next five to ten years?

Alissa Foale

This is a pretty broad and interesting topic, however speaking in general terms, about the wealth management sector, we are seeing:

• a trend towards automation and technology that uses predictive and data analytics to help us better manage risk;
• increased focus on enhanced customer experience for wealth management products;
• an increase in platform driven, commoditised investment solutions and distribution models; and
• more complex regulation and a resulting increase in business costs.

In response to emerging technological developments we need to continually assess our services and examine how innovation can be deployed for the benefit of our business and client base. Keeping up with disruptive innovation around products and delivery of services provides new and interesting challenges for us in-house lawyers, particularly where “non-traditional” players are challenging and disrupting the status quo. Further, the increased regulation (and complexity) in the sector means that there is more demand for legal services, and a need to effectively manage and triage that demand.

The issue of diversity and inclusion is very topical in our sector and there is a hope that this will be an area of fundamental change over the next five to ten years, particularly as firms start to realise the commercial benefits of a diverse and inclusive organisation.

What are the key tenets of successful change management?

Strong leadership, knowledge of who your key stakeholders are and a clear understanding of their vision or the outcomes they want to achieve. Identify what the challenges to success are, know where opportunities lie, and set KPIs/objectives or targets early on, so your team are clear about what they can contribute to the change programme.

When engaging with your business to deliver change, approach the programme not just with your “lawyer’s hat” on but as a stakeholder aiming to contribute to the programme’s success and the company’s strategic objectives. In-house lawyers can really add value to change delivery as they tend to possess strong problem solving skills, commercial awareness, pragmatism and sound judgment.

What are the biggest challenges facing your function?

As most GCs can relate, there is always a challenge to do “more for less”. We need to be able to demonstrate our value to the business as well show that we have a handle on our budget.

It is important that we constantly test ourselves to show that we are delivering value for money, either internally by creating efficiency or by challenging our external law firms, consultants and alternative legal service providers to demonstrate value.

Another main challenge is the changing perception of the role of the in-house legal adviser. I don’t think we can sit back and simply say we are here solely to deliver legal advice, we need to be looped in with the business to ensure we understand their challenges; horizon scan and anticipate issues and provide mitigants before the issues crystallise. My team have recently undertaken an initiative to create a strategy to manage and respond to the challenges and opportunities we have identified in our business. By undertaking a programme of stakeholder analysis, external resource review, a demand management analysis, we are managing these challenges now as well as planning for the future.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you have done instead?

I’ve always had a passion for travel, so definitely something in that field. Exploring exotic destinations and being paid to do it, is a dream!

Alissa Foale is one of the 30+ speakers making up this year’s speaker line-up at The Lawyer’s In-house Financial Services conference on 9 April. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to inquire about attending, please contact Kenan Balli on +44(0) 20 7970 4017.

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The speed read: Orrick helps associates roam free; Herbies’ lightbulb moment; and European upheaval

This week, The Lawyer has revealed a number of law firm initiatives targeting the junior end of the industry through innovation and new career opportunities.

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Travers’ bonus tweaks lead to improved gender pay gap figures

Travers Smith has improved its bonus gender pay gap after increasing the amounts awarded to business services staff. For the 2017/18 financial year, Travers upped the rewards handed out to its PAs and business services employees, a move that contributed to the narrowing of its bonus gender pay gap. In the firm’s most recent results, […]

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LASPO review: small drops of hope in an ocean of austerity?

This year marks the 70th anniversary of legal aid in this country. It was introduced in 1949 to ensure that ordinary people, and not just the rich, could afford to solve their legal problems. But this year also marks the seventh anniversary of the legislation which has done so much to roll back the extent of provision of publicly funded advice and representation.

Although previous administrations had tinkered with the fees paid to legal aid lawyers, the Coalition government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) made sweeping changes to the scope of civil law entitlement, leaving many types of problem unprovided for altogether. With certain exceptions, nearly all employment, private family law, housing, immigration, welfare and education cases were no longer in scope. Even for those more critical claims for which legal aid was still available, the threshold of eligibility was raised with the intention of excluding all but the poorest clients. An ‘exceptional funding’ scheme proved a lot less generous in practice than expected. At the same time, further cuts in criminal case funding were made.

In the face of protests by lawyers, the government began a campaign, enthusiastically supported by the press, of briefing against ‘fat cat’ lawyers, said to be milking a legal system that was excessively generous and wasteful. In the face of austerity, lawyers were expected to tighten their belts; which is all well and good, but what about the poor clients? What about the equality of arms and a fair trial? One result of the cuts was a massive upswelling in the numbers of those attempting to navigate the court system unrepresented, as litigants in person (LIPs), or driven to seek help from unregulated and often unqualified ‘McKenzie Friends’.

All this and more has been widely documented, not just in the media (see, in particular, Justice in a Time of Austerity on the Justice Gap website, and Emily Dugan’s reporting for Buzzfeed News) but also in many judgments and the speeches of judges exasperated over the unforeseen costs and consequences of the cuts. (See, for example, MG v JF [2015] EWHC 564 (Fam); [2016] FLR 424 at [4] and [10], and  Lindner v Rawlins [2015] EWCA Civ 61 at [34].)

Calls for review

In 2015 the House of Commons select committee on Justice published its Eighth Report, on the Impact of changes to civil legal aid under Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (HC311). This noted that the changes had been introduced without adequate prior research, and that “while it had made significant savings in the cost of the [legal aid] scheme, the Ministry had harmed access to justice for some litigants and had not achieved the other three out of four of its stated objectives for the reforms”.

In November 2016 the Labour party launched an interim report on “the crisis in the justice system in England & Wales”, published by the Commission on Access to Justice chaired by Labour peer Lord Bach, whose final report, The Right to Justice, was published in September 2017.

Finally, in January 2017, the government itself promised to review the effects of LASPO. However, thanks to the snap election that year, the inquiry only got round to announcing its terms of reference more than a year later, in March 2018. After several postponements, it eventually published its Post Implementation Review last week. But if anyone thought the government was going to have a change of heart and reverse the savage cuts, they were sadly mistaken.

Challenges identified

While the review accepts that in principle “everyone must have the ability to avail themselves of the justice system when they require it”, it argues that legal aid has to be “sustainable” in “the context of the economic downturn”. LASPO may have “achieved its objectives of delivering significant savings” but its impact, the review admits, has created “a number of challenges”.

The review reveals that reduced fees for civil and family lawyers has led to a drop of 32 per cent in the number of providers doing legally aided work, leading to legal aid ‘deserts’ in some parts of the country; and that “the legal profession is no longer attracting the next generation of legal aid lawyers”. In criminal cases, legal aid grants in the magistrates’ courts have decreased by 45% and those in the Crown Court by an estimated 27 per cent over a seven year period. In immigration cases there has 85 per cent reduction in legal help for non-asylum immigration matters since LASPO, and a 62 per cent reduction in full representation.

Much of the evidence suggests that (a) early intervention saves money and (b) problems often occur in clusters, so it doesn’t make sense to provide aid for some problems but not others. Lack of awareness of the help that is available means that, even when it hasn’t been cut, legal aid isn’t being used.

Looking to the future

The government appears to recognise the problems, or some of them, and has promised to “conduct a review into the thresholds for legal aid entitlement, and their interaction with the wider criteria” in civil and family matters. There will be some more money, in some limited areas, but its main proposal is an ‘action plan’ called Legal Support: The Way Ahead (CP40). The general idea behind this is to provide help and intervention to people before their problems require legal advice, let alone litigation. (It includes ideas such as ‘co‑location of support services’, e.g. providing a legal advice hub, staffed by students, in a medical practice.) In his foreword, the Lord Chancellor David Gauke says:

‘For too long our approach to supporting access to justice has been concentrated on funding for court disputes. There are too many people entangled in the justice system for a variety of issues, and some may not necessarily need to be there. Our ambition must be to give people the tools to resolve their problems well before this point, before they become legal problems that require a court visit and a lawyer. Early intervention is key and it is upon this that our new vision for legal support is founded.’

In a sense this ‘new vision’ chimes with the idea that ‘prevention is better than cure’. It also chimes with the philosophy of the massive court modernisation programme, known as HMCTS Reform (which we wrote about here), namely that the legal system should be designed around problem-solving for users, rather than as a system depending primarily on the involvement of lawyers. This is all very well for simple factual or financial disputes, but works rather less well with more complex issues involving human emotions and human frailty, and in cases where users need help and support in understanding their rights and how to enforce them.

It also makes sense for the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS to work together on providing tools and support for those needing legal advice in association with projects like the online court, and to engage the help and support of public interest projects (as, to be fair, HMCTS is already doing, eg with the Good Things Foundation in its assisted digital programme). Better funding for organisations like Citizens Advice, Personal Support Units, and voluntary enterprises like the Family Court Information project in Bristol and the South West would be a start.

But it’s one thing to sound positive and open to new ideas, and quite another to put the necessary money where one’s mouth is. Launching the action plan, justice minister Lucy Frazer said the government would roll back on the cuts to some (albeit limited) extent to ‘expand the scope of legal aid to cover new areas of family law” and that it would also “launch a review of legal aid eligibility thresholds’. (You wonder why they hadn’t already done that, given the material already before them.) Frazer also promised to ‘invest up to £5m in delivering innovative services and test new methods of support to help people resolve their problems quickly and easily, in the way that best works for them’ (which presumably means without going to court, or even lawyers if possible). Funding to help litigants in person would also be increased from £1.5m to £3m.

A lukewarm reception

Commenting on Twitter, Steve Hynes of Legal Action Group (LAG) observed: ‘The LASPO review consists of a few small scale (though welcome) tweaks around the edges and a commitment to review of eligibility, as well as some pilots on early advice. These in no-way compensate for the loss of access to justice for the public LASPO has caused.’

Other commentators gave the Post Implementation Review an equally lukewarm reception. The chair of the Bar, Richard Atkins QC said the review was a ‘wasted opportunity’ and that £8m extra moneys promised “are but a drop in the ocean given the impact LASPO has had on restricting individuals’ access to justice.” Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution’s family law group, said: “the simple fact is that, without access to tailored legal advice, many vulnerable individuals will be left to deal with the family courts with little or no help”.

We’ve had our seven lean years. No one expected the Biblical seven fat ones to follow, but the government will need to work hard to convince the legal professions that its action plan is really a plan of action, and not just an excuse to continue squeezing the justice system of funds and leaving it to struggle on (for another seven lean years) with fewer courts, poorer lawyers, and failing IT systems.

Paul Magrath is head of product development at the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR) and a member of the Transparency Project. His book, Transparency in the Family Courts, co-authored with Lucy Reed and Julie Doughty, is published by Bloomsbury Professional.

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Whatever happened to… the One Essex Court juniors of 2016?

Every year, The Lawyer publishes its Top 20 cases of the coming 12 months based on a variety of metrics. The headline QCs and partners regularly take the headlines, but the juniors can go unheralded. In this series, we’re going take a look back at the juniors whose cases three years ago paved the way for their careers to flourish.

This week, it’s the turn of One Essex Court’s (1EC) 10-strong cohort from 2016. Of that group, one has gone on to take silk: Orlando Gledhill QC, made up in 2017. The other nine – Oliver Butler, Gideon Cohen, Matthew Cook, Sebastian Isaac, James Nadin, Conall Patton, Nehali Shah, Derek Spitz and Sophie Weber – are yet to do so,.

Orlando Gledhill QC (Call 1998, silk 2017)

Gledhill’s last year as a junior saw him acting on arguably the biggest case of that year’s Top 20. He was led by 4 Stone Buildings’ Robert Miles QC, on instruction from Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) UK and US head of disputes Damien Byrne Hill, for investment bank Goldman Sachs as it looked to fight off a $1.2bn claim from the Libyan Investment Authority. Alongside him in the junior ranks was Miles’ 4 Stone Buildings colleague Greg Denton-Cox who also has a formidable and highly prized commercial practice of his own.

Gledhill’s practice has been weighted towards larger institutional clients as evidenced through his work for RBS, leading South Square’s Matthew Abraham on instruction from Rosenblatt Solicitors early last year. That judgment, which permitted the bank to retain litigation privilege over a handful of documents would be significant in the Court of Appeal judgment to protect the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation’s own privilege from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Matthew Cook (Call 1999)

In the Top 20 of 2016, Cook featured on two sub-cases both for the same client: MasterCard. Those cases were wrapped up as part of the Interchange scandal which rocked the payment platform. In fact, it could yet do further damage after Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan was successful in pushing through an order to hear its Collective Proceedings Order again.

His practice is largely one focused on anti-trust, competition and insolvency, receiving instructions from some of the biggest firms in those spaces.

Jones Day partner Nicholas Cotter instructed Cook during the initial Interchange hearings, though he was instructed by a raft of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer competition partners – Jon Lawrence, Jonathan Isted, Nick Frey and Mark Sansom – in a parallel matter with Brick Court’s Mark Hoskins QC leading Cook and Brick Court juniors Tony Singla and Hugo Leith.

Data gathered for The Lawyer Litigation Tracker shows that Jones Day has been Cook’s most frequent client.

Of the 16 cases he has acted on since The Lawyer started tracking data, the US firm has instructed him on nearly half with seven cases accounting for 43.8 per cent of all instructions. The 69 case days he has logged for Jones Day is nearly six times that of closest competitor – in case day terms – Macfarlanes for whom he logged 12 days on a single case. He has acted for Mishcon de Reya and Freshfields on two cases apiece, representing a combined quarter of his instructions. Goodman Derrick, Pinsent Masons, CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang and Cooke Young & Keidan have all instructed him on one matter each.

Derek Spitz (Call 2001)

Litigation Tracker data shows that Spitz has acted on three cases since data was first tracked, though he boasts a considerable arbitration practice which is not tracked.

Of the cases that can be assessed, Spitz was opposite Cook in Sainsburys claim against MasterCard, having acted for Sainsburys in that case.

He was instructed by Mishcon de Reya partner Rob Murray in Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd v MasterCard Inc and Ors and then by Morgan Lewis & Brockius London managing partner Frances Murphy in the group claim alongside Arcadia Group, Marks & Spencer and Tesco. Spitz clocked a considerable amount of days on both cases, though the 92 he logged with Murphy far outstripped the 34 he did with Murray.

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is shown to be the only other firm to have instructed him since data was first tracked, working with partner Katie Stephen. The pair were acting for BMW (UK) Holdings in a tax case which also featured his 1EC colleagues Ian Glick QC and Adam Rushworth, and recently made up Brick Court silk Victoria Wakefield QC.

James Nadin (Call 2002)

Nadin’s client AMEC, along with a cohort of construction giants including the now defunct entity Carillion, was facing serious allegations from a group of 20 lead claimants saying they were blacklisted by the industry. His client steadfastly denied allegations of blacklisting and was not part of the group which settled many those claims.

Since then, Nadin’s work is understood to have been primarily outside of the UK. He has followed a path which is increasingly well traveled toward the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and is called to the BVI Bar. His practice also takes in a considerable amount of international arbitration which has limited his appearance in the UK courts.

It is thought that his last case was acting for telecoms business EE Limited in Phones 4u Limited v EE Limited led by 1EC colleague David Wolfson QC on instruction from Addleshaw Goddard partner Alison Goldthorp.

Conall Patton (Call 2004)

Rave reviews for Patton’s work have resulted in City partners praising his “emotional intelligence and empathy with clients” or “the soft bit that people can neglect”.

As a result of that attitude, his list of instructing firms features some stellar names.

Freshfields has instructed Patton on three, or 18.8 per cent, of his 16 cases in the English & Welsh courts since data was first tracked. Slaughter and May, Linklaters and Travers Smith have each instructed him twice, equating to 12.5 per cent, though the 13 case days he worked for Linklaters was more than the others combined (six for Slaughters, three for Travers Smith).

Seven firms have each sought counsel once from Patton, including Allen & Overy (A&O), Baker Botts, Clyde & Co, CMS, HSF, NRF and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Patton was the sole junior acting for Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky with 1EC’s Laurence Rabinowitz QC and Fountain Court’s Patrick Goodall QC leading. He probably had an inkling that the Freshfields partner – Ian Terry – leading on the would be joining him and Rabinowitz in chambers later that year as part of 1EC’s seven-strong mediation team.

That same team of Rabinowitz, Goodall and Patton is now being led by Travers Smith partner Toby Robinson for tech business Autonomy in one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases of 2019.

Sebastian Isaac (Call 2005)

Isaac acted against Patton for the claimant in Victor Pinchuk v Gennadiy Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoisky three years ago, led by 4 Stone Buildings’ Jonathan Crow QC alongside Richard Hill QC and Donald Lilly, and Erskine Chambers’ Tim Akkouh, instructed by Hogan Lovells partners Chris Hardman and Richard Lewis. As so many cases tend to, this one ended just before final hearing with out of court settlements for Isaac’s client.

Since then, he has acted on some major pieces of litigation arguably the biggest of which was for the claimant in Sharp & Ors v Lloyds Bank. The litigation, part of the HBOS scandal, saw him instructed by Harcus Sinclair partner Damon Parker and led by Hill alongside his 4 Stone Buildings colleague Lara Hassell-Hart and Erskine Chambers’ Jack Rivett.

He now finds himself on another of our Top 20 cases which has a similar feel to his 2016 appearance. Isaac is Essex Court silk Stephen Houseman QC’s junior, on instruction from Clifford Chance partner Julian Acratopulo, for Richard Deitz who is the fourth defendant in Yukos Finance B.V. & Ors v Stephen Lynch & Ors over a bankrupted Russian oil business.

Nehali Shah (Call 2008)

Hot 100 alumna Nehali Shah has had a varied range of instructions since The Lawyer began tracking data.

Shah’s appearance in 2016 came acting for private equity house Terra Firma in a claim of more than £2bn against Citibank, following its 2007 acquisition of music label EMI. A very 1EC affair, she was led by Lord Grabiner QC and Wolfson, alongside Brick Court’s Singla. Mishcon de Reya partner James Oldnall instructed the barristers on that case with a further 10 firms all shown to have instructed Shah at some point.

Among those, Boies Schiller & Flexner, DLA Piper and NRF are shown to be the firms most frequently instructing Shah with each having turned to her twice. A&O, Arlingtons Sharmas Solicitors, EY, HFW, RPC, Slaughters and Womble Bond Dickinson also feature on her client list.

Her broad practice includes expertise in banking, financial services, restructuring, energy, civil fraud and jurisdictional challenges and applications.

Oliver Butler (Call 2010)

Butler is one of three barristers under 10 years call on this list and has followed up his 2016 appearance with another in 2019 on PCP Capital Partners LLP v Barclays Bank. The case is set to be one of the most high-profile of the year and the 1EC junior is joined by chambers’ colleague Alexander Polley with the pair led by 3 Verulam Buildings’ Ewan McQuater QC, instructed by Simmons & Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore.

His practice certainly looks to lean heavily towards financial services and banking as the junior has also acted for Citibank, led by 1EC’s Daniel Toledano QC with Richard Mott, instructed by Norton Rose Fulbright partner Michael Godden.

Gideon Cohen (Call 2010)

Cohen recently had a standout decision in the long-running ‘air cargo’ litigation. Cohen was acting for British Airways which at one point was facing claims of as much as £3.6bn with a Court of Appeal judge siding with his client. The team was led by Monckton Chambers’ Jon Turner QC and featured Turner’s colleague Michael Armitage as well as 1EC’s Patton with Slaughter and May partners Jonathan Clark and Richard Swallow instructing.

Slaughters and HSF are shown to be Cohen’s two best clients, each taking a 50 per cent share of his instructions, according to the Litigation Tracker.

Sophie Weber (Call 2011)

Weber has built out a very impressive start to her career and at nine years’ call, is the most junior barrister on this list.

Her client in the Top 20 cases of 2016 longer exists as the team led by 1EC’s David Cavender QC, Edmund Nourse QC, Butler, Weber, and Devereux Chambers’ Christopher Stone and Bayo Randle, instructed by Macfarlanes senior solicitor Simon Day, were representing Carillion. The case didn’t directly lead to Carillion’s demise, but it does mean Weber is unable to call it a client anymore.

Since then, her clients appear to have come primarily through boutique law firms having acted for Memery Crystal and PCB Litigation through three-quarters of her public appearances. Freshfields being the one outlier since data was tracked.

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Squires pulls the plug on Budapest in latest CEE exit

Squire Patton Boggs has closed its Budapest office, The Lawyer has learnt, following a strategic review that echoes the destiny of a number of international firms in the region. The US firm’s five-strong Budapest office, which officially shut in late January, was helmed by managing partner Akos Mester, who previously co-led the office with M&A […]

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We need to move the dial on Bar diversity. Here’s how.

It’s good to return to my roots. I have huge admiration for barristers-it’s a gutsy, demanding job, requiring stamina and intelligence. The Bar’s independence and commitment to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour remains a fundamentally important pillar of democracy. So, it’s a privilege to return to this world to support barristers […]

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Goodwin’s City figures skyrocket after KWM and Dechert hires

Goodwin Procter’s London office increased its revenue by more than 58 per cent last year on the back of team hires from Dechert and King & Wood Mallesons in 2017. Turnover leapt from $43m in 2017 to nearly $67m in 2018, after a 64 per cent rise in London headcount. The firm’s City presence was boosted by […]

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Clifford Chance posts March 2019 retention

Clifford Chance has retained 46 of its 51 final-seat trainees as newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, a retention rate of 90 per cent. Fifty of the trainees had applied for NQ positions. The result is similar to last spring, when the firm kept on 91 per cent of its qualifers. Clifford Chance’s result beats Allen & […]

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