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Blogs

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Blog Name: Matthew's blog

Exclusive: Freshfields' trainees advised to talk to their teddy bears
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15 May 2015
University students who have been offered training contracts at Freshfields have been sharing their revision tips with each other.

Most are fairly standard and sensible - revising in short bursts, taking plenty of breaks etc. Although I liked the commitment shown by one student who won't tear herself away from her books even to attend to her personal hygiene:

     

But the standout suggestion was this, from a grown woman at the LSE, who admits that she talks to her stuffed animals:

     

    If you'd turn to page 214 of your Chitty on Contract...

Andrew Austin, Freshfields' Trainee Recruitment Partner, said "we thought it would be good to pass on tips from students who have done their exams to those who are doing their exams now. Personally I didn't talk to inanimate objects, including teddy bears, when I was revising, but when I was preparing for job interviews I sometimes tried out my thoughts on 'why law' or 'why Freshfields' on friends and family. Lucky them! Whatever works, I say!"

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BBC Assistant Political Editor calls Nigel Farage a ladypart
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14 May 2015
Blooper of the year goes to Norman Smith of the BBC, who found himself slightly tongue-tied this morning when he was describing Nigel Farage's personality cult:



Many a true word etc etc...


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The best pisco sours in London
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1
14 May 2015
I am very fortunate in that I eat out a lot. Generally at the same places, and generally I don't bother to review them (other than on the incredibly rare occasion that I find myself in an absolute, howling dog of a restaurant).

But last weekend I had such a superb blow out at the Peruvian restaurant Pachamama that I have to spread the word. It's in a tardis-like basement in Marylebone, blink and you'd miss the entrance. The interior is full of mismatched lights and pot plants and could be mistaken for a student pad. The natural habitat for many of the customers - there are lots of hats, tats, beards and piercings. Which didn't auger well for someone such as myself who is as crusty as a month-old loaf of Hovis.

But the food was outstanding. Dishes are to share, we were told to order about three each. We had six. It tasted even better than it looked, and it looked phenomenal:

     

Stand out for me was crispy belly of lamb with an arse-burning amount of jalapeno, slow cooked rib of pork with white asparagus and fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt. Four of us sampled pretty much everything on the menu and didn't have a single duff dish. And a shout out to our waiter Fabien, who was outstandingly knowledgable, helpful and unflappable despite racing around like a chimp on speed.

Go for cocktails rather than wine. We had gin martinis made with macerated capers rather than olives before dinner, lots of pisco sours during, and some fantastic old fashioned infused with the smoke of some amazonian wood after.

Probably more of a dinner place than a lunch place, it's very noisy, they turn tables, the bar gets very full very quickly. Go anyway.
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The evolution of Charlie's Angels
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07 May 2015
Charlie's Angels is clearly being remade for the Australian market.

The original:

     

The remake:

     

And now, Charlie's Angels - Lawyers Chambers on Riley Street:

     


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Exclusive: McClure Naismith accounts three months overdue
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01 May 2015
Scottish firm McClure Naismith has yet to file its 2014 accounts - despite the fact that they were due at the end of January. And it has refused to explain the reason for the three month delay.

A spokeswoman told RollOnFriday that notes pertaining to liablities in the previous year's accounts had "no bearing" on the delay, and "the 2014 accounts will be issued very soon". She wouldn't provide any further comment.

It seems extraordinary for a fairly sizeable firm - it has 29 partners - to be so remiss. As it stands the firm is probably on the hook for a late filing fee, which I daresay won't trouble it too much. But failure to file accounts can a be a criminal offence resulting in fines being imposed on directors personally. Why would McClures put itself in this position?

    Bad McClures! Naughty!

The firm first published its profits in 2013, when the Scotsman noted that they had fallen for the second year in a row. The firm's Chairman commented at the time that "we had hoped that turnover would have grown by more than it did and probably hadn’t cut our cloth in terms of costs as appropriately as we could have".

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Uncomfortable lawyer of the week
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01 May 2015
Thanks to the reader who sent in a YouTube clip of two associates from Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Steven Murray and Priya Tromans have clearly been forced by their marketing department to do the three minute pitch of the firm's school fee recovery services. It is fair to say that neither would make a career treading the boards - both look like they would sooner be sticking pins in their eyes than facing a camera. But Murray is the more terrified of the two. He stares, unblinking, like a rabbit in the headlights, occasionally closing his eyes in silent prayer that the whole, awful ordeal might soon be over. Poor chap.

     

Here's the clip in all its glory:

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NRF Trainee bosses the Marathon des Sables
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3
30 April 2015
A tip of the hat to Tom Bramah, a trainee at Norton Rose Fulbright, who has just completed the Marathon des Sables.

The MdS bills itself as the toughest footrace on earth - Ranulph Fiennes described it as "more hellish than hell". 156 miles (more than six marathons) run over five days across the Moroccan Sahara in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Competitors are required to carry everything that they needed to survive except water on their backs. It puts the endless sponsorship requests for 5k runs slightly into perspective...

     

Tom completed the race in a total of 31 hours and finished 235th out 1423 competitors, raising over £11,500, click here if you'd like to contribute.

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Dentons completely loses the plot
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3
29 April 2015
Dentons has kicked off another fantastically entertaining spat with American Lawyer Magazine.

Last year the firm announced that it wouldn't publish its global profits per equity partner figure. It said that any such figure would be meaningless given that Dentons operates a verein structure in both emerging and mature markets. AM Lawyer pointed out that other firms operate the same structure in the same markets and provide their figures, and that Dentons' reticence was simply down to the fact that its figures were pisspoor. So it had a stab at coming up with them anyway.

The firm went mental. Open letters were written, huffy statements were published claiming that the editor of AM Lawyer couldn't count. But AM Lawyer clearly found its bovvered bag empty, because it did the same thing again on Monday. Dentons may have trumpeted its fantastic year in the US, it said, but by AM Lawyer's maths the firm's global PEP figure was $495,000. Absolutely at the arse end of the top 100 firms and 10% down on the previous year.

Again, the firm went ballistic. Mike McNamara, US Managing Partner, sent out a "correction demand" yesterday saying that AM Lawyer's methodology was "mystefying" and that it had "created" numbers that were "clearly false". Although he refused to provide the correct ones. AM Lawyer said it stood by its figures. Another open letter will presumably be sent out later today. Crack out the popcorn.

     

The only other major firm not to release its figures is Slaughter and May. I know a bit about the City legal market, and I'm going to peg Slaughters' profits per partner last year at £1.8m. Somehow I doubt that I'll now get a furious email demanding  that I take this figure down, or that Chris Saul will write an open letter accusing me of not knowing my arse from a hole in the ground. If you don't want to play the game, accept that others will play it anyway.

Much of Dentons will be cringing at its belligerent stance. It certainly hasn't come from London. Matthew Jones, who is stepping down as CEO, is thoroughly decent, sensible and intelligent. His predecessor Howard Morris is one of the nicest men in the world. I haven't met the new chap yet but by all accounts he is cut from the same cloth. They would never sanction anything as crass as this. And how will the 6,000 Chinese lawyers Dentons has recently swallowed up take the loss of face that will inevitably result from a petty fight with the media, very publicly played out, which the firm cannot win?

This will have been the decision of a handful of senior, aggressive US partners who demand deference bordering on sycophancy from all around them. Brioni suits with square jaws and names like Mitch Humpngrind III, shouting like Lear in the storm, unable to believe that anyone might dare disagree with them.

I have sympathy with firms being wary of PEP. It's a figure that can be easily manipulated and is a clumsy indicator of a firm's success. But this is just lunacy and it's not the way to fight the cause.
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Exclusive: Alan Partidge email of the week
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5
28 April 2015
A reader who is in house at a big corporate received the following email sent to the entire company:

Debra,

Liked the bit re team motivation and very good that it recognises that members of teams have special needs. I can certainly think of a few in my team with 'special needs'!

Regards *****


    Aha!

About three hours later the following was sent out:

I understand that my poor attempt at humour this morning was ill conceived and that it has caused some individuals offence.

Please be assured that my remarks were not directed at any individual or groups of individuals. Please accept my apologies if you took offence at my comments.

Regards *****

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Exclusive: Withers fires top lawyer for moonlighting
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28 April 2015
Withers has fired one of its lawyers for moonlighting.

Matthew Roazen, a US-qualified attorney, was hired by the firm in 2013 as a special counsel in its London litigation department. He'd previously made his name in the Russian market, having worked at the Moscow teams of Akin Gump and LeBoeuf and in-house at Alfa Bank.

Roazen was brought in to increase the firm's Russian client base and insiders say that he started off well. But he'd clearly spent too much time in Moscow and had absorbed some of its, ahem, more relaxed business practices. Withers found out that he was moonlighting for an individual he had previously introduced to the firm and was billing him directly.

    Russia. Strong like bear. Bent like dog's hind leg.

It's not clear why Roazen did this, or how he could have thought that he'd get away with it, but it backfired spectacularly. He was immediately dismissed.

A spokesman for Withers said "Matthew Roazen was employed as a special counsel at Withers. We discovered that he was conducting work outside the remit of his employment contract and consequently dismissed him. Our investigation of the matter did not identify any illegal activities, and we are confident that it did not result in financial losses for any of our clients."

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