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Blog Name: Jamie Hamilton @ RoF

Exclusive; Slaughter and May raises pay, awards big bonuses
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13 December 2017

Slaughter and May has awarded bonuses of between 9% and 16% to all its associates. In addition it has raised trainee, NQ and 1PQE salaries.

In the firm's traditional, and admirably semi-socialist, way, all lawyers within their PQE band will receive the same discretionary performance bonus. At the top end of the scale it means that 5PQEs will take home an extra 16% of their annual salary.

PQE  Bonus % 
 NQ - 0.5 PQE  9% 
 1 - 2 PQE  12%
 2.5 - 4 PQE  14%  
 4.5 - 6.5 PQE  16%  

The bonuses will arrive in a lump sum in associates' December paypackets, and mirror the sizeable percentages awarded last crimbo.

    Surely one 3PQE will spend her bonus wisely.

The firm has also raised some junior salaries. With effect from January 2018, trainee salaries will rise by £1,000, the NQ salary by £2,000, the 6 month PQE salary by £1,500 and the 1PQE salary by £1,000.

PQE  Current salary  New salary 
 First year trainee  £43,000  £44,000
 Second year trainee  £48,000  £49,000
 NQ  £78,000  £80,000
 1PQE  £87,000  £88,000
 2PQE  £98,500  £98,500
 3PQE  £108,000  £108,000

The firm has not raised the salaries of other PQE bands after it awarded major raises in last year's sweeping benefits review. A source close to the firm said the latest small increases represented a rebalancing exercise to bring the trainee, NQ and 1PQE salaries in line with the market - albeit the Magic Circle market, not the US firm market. In a letter seen by RollOnFriday, Executive Partner Paul Stacey told staff that the raises were being implemented because "we aim to pay broadly in line with the average of the other Magic Circle firms' total cash (salary and bonus)".

However a spokesman did not rule out further increases next year, telling RollOnFriday that a salary review would take place in the spring.  .... read more >
Clifford Chance and partner fined £50,000 each
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01 December 2017

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Clifford Chance £50,000 and partner Alex Payanides another £50,000.

The firm and Panayides admitted that they entered into a Conditional Fee Arrangement unlawfully. They also admitted that they failed to disclose to a potential litigation funder of their client, Excalibur Ventures, that a document providing advice to Excalibur was drafted by one of its owners. And they admitted paying money held on behalf of litigation funders other than in accordance with the relevant funding agreements.

RollOnFriday broke the news last week that Panayides, a litigation and arbitration partner in the Magic Circle firm's London office, was due to appear before the SDT.

CC and Panayides earned their £100,000 fine in relation to a catastrophic 2010 claim brought by Excalibur against Texas Keystone Inc and Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited.

Excalibur, which had no assets, claimed that it was owed rights to develop oil fields in Kurdistan. Under lead partner Panayides, Clifford Chance agreed to act for Excalibur on a CFA, understood to be the firm's first (and now, surely, its last). A group of third party litigation funders gave Excalibur £31.75 million to pursue the matter to trial. Over £14 million of the war chest was paid to Clifford Chance in fees.

But the High Court claim failed on every point. Emphatically. The High Court said Excalibur's case was "essentially speculative and opportunistic" and "based on no sound foundation in fact or law". It said the $1.6 billion quantum of the claim was "grossly exaggerated" and worth $3.3 million at best. The funders were ordered to pay the defendants' £20 million costs. They appealed and lost.

    £50,000. That's, like, 30,000 milkshakes? 

The courts were critical of Clifford Chance, citing a conflict of interest (Panayides' brother and father both worked for companies owned by one of the litigation funders), the high success fee uplift (140%), and Panayides' "aggressive and unacceptable correspondence".

The funders sued Clifford Chance for professional negligence in 2014, blaming Panayides for over-stating the claim's chances of success. The firm settled for an undisclosed amount.

Now, three years later, the regulator has had its say. The SRA found that neither Panayides not Clifford Chance had a conflict of interest. Nor, understandably, did it care about a litigation lawyer sending aggressive letters. In a summary, the SRA said no breaches of the Solicitors' Code were identified "in respect of the respondent's substantive conduct of the litigation" and stated that it "agrees that the admissions and outcome satisfy the public interest having regard to the gravity of the matters alleged". Clifford Chance will be hoping that copping to the charges presented draws a line under the matter, which has been dragging on for seven years, but it's still mighty embarrassing. 

A spokesman said, "We take our obligations to our clients and the profession extremely seriously and are committed to upholding the highest standards at all times. We accept the SDT's findings that some aspects of our conduct in this matter did not meet these high standards. The issues referred to the SDT were not prompted by any complaint but had all been identified and self-reported to the SRA by the firm following our own prompt and thorough internal review." 

"We are pleased to note that the honesty and integrity of all parties is nowhere in question and that none of the original judicial criticism, which prompted the SRA investigation, is reflected in the SRA's findings."

"While it was found that our systems and controls were appropriate, as a firm we are committed to further developing and promoting market-shaping practices in relation to ethics and professional standards."

CC is the latest City firm to suffer from the regulator's new, bolder stance on fines. In April three Clyde & Co partners were ordered to pay £10,000 each and the firm was also fined £50,000, then a record amount from the SDT. But it was broken weeks later in July when the SDT fined White & Case £250,000 and one of its partners £50,000 for breaching conflict of interest rules. And then in November Locke Lord got whacked with £500,000. £100,000? Come on, CC. .... read more >
Norton Rose partner picks unfortunate role model in terribly timed interview
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24 November 2017

Until two days ago, Charlie Rose seemed like a safe bet if you were picking a role model of integrity and intellectual inquiry. A veteran US TV anchor, the hard-hitting 60 Minutes correspondent and host of his eponymous prestige interview show was the US equivalent of Jeremy Paxman softened with some Parky. He was avuncular but no pushover, hard but fair, a respected veteran trusted even by partisans. He was one of America’s last grand old anchors, and in 2015 he was awarded the Walter Cronkite Excellence in Journalism award.

And then on November 20th the Washington Post published allegations by eight women that Rose had contrived to appear naked in front of them, groped them and made lewd phone calls. His unsolicited shoulder rubs were known among female employees as “the crusty paw”. One woman recalled him attempting to force his hand down her pants while she wept throughout.

Rose apologised for his “inappropriate behaviour”.

The next day CBS fired him and cancelled his show.

Headlines like "CBS News, PBS fire Charlie Rose after sexual misconduct allegations", "Charlie Rose's actions do not reflect excellence in journalism" and "Three more women come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Charlie Rose" cemented his toxic status as another of the Gray Dorians, these reverse Dorian Grays whose portraits on TV and the red carpet remained clean and noble while, out of their make-up, they disported themselves with gross abandon off-camera, foisting their ageing jowls on juniors in the attics of studios, offices and hotel rooms.

But for forty years BEFORE 20 November, Rose's public record in broadcasting was impeccable. And it’s important to remember that when we consider the absolutely terrible timing of this interview in a trade magazine. 



A source says, "I think the co-head of energy and infrastructure projects for the US at Norton Rose Fulbright probably regrets allowing himself to be described in these glowing terms". 

Yes, it does unfortunately appear as if Keith Martin has been accused of groping his way around the energy sector (which is absolutely not the case) or possibly of flashing the sun in his bathrobe, which actually we should all do more often.

Years from now, solar lawyers will marvel at the good humour with which Martin took his comparison to a serial molester. “Even leans in to it”, they’ll say.


.... read more >
Exclusive: BLM London head quits
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22 November 2017

BLM's head of London, Jennette Newman, and London partner Jonathan Edwards have both resigned. Sources told RollOnFriday the pair quit last week and were both placed on gardening leave immediately. The shock exit means the firm currently has no London boss.

It comes just four months after the Managing Partner left with no replacement in place. 

Meanwhile, RollOnFriday has discovered that a second charge has been taken over BLM's assets. HSBC took the charge on 2 November. It comes on top of the charge in favour of Barclays dating from September 2014. 



You might think this indicates that BLM is in some trouble. But despite appearances this is all good news, or a least it is according to BLM:

“Off the back of a strengthened balance sheet and falling debt, we made a decision to review our banking arrangements and agreed new terms this month. We’ve banked with Barclays for some time and now we’re pleased to say that we’re also being backed by HSBC, which is testament to our strong financial position. Support from both banks provides ample opportunity for future expansion and, together with our increased net asset base, a stable platform to support our development.”
 
“Jennette Newman and Jonathan Edwards made a decision to leave BLM to pursue other opportunities. Both are partners in the London office which continues to be a thriving location for BLM with a strong presence in the London Market. We’re in the process of electing a London office head.”


Update: They've both gone to Clyde & Co. Read more on Friday. Chime in below.
.... read more >
Hurrah for Bolt Burdon
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15 November 2017

It's a fine line writing about Bonkers Law Firm Websites

The staff involved -  loving tax, making tiny movements, having an alien, posing with bears - are either victims of an over-zealous art direction, or complicit and therefore deserving of even more credit, for injecting some colour into the grey veins of corporate websitery. They are fun pieces to write, too (do write in if you spot a candidate). When I catch myself photoshopping a tentacle onto a face I think, 'someone is paying me to do this', then, 'should I have a real job I am not a young man anymore', then 'brilliant just like Cthulhu'. But in taking the michael, we don't want to go too far. Otherwise we get angry letters.

As a result, it's always nice to hear that the subjects of a Bonkers story, which is really just a certificate of fabulousness, have taken it in good humour. 

So thank you, Bolt Burdon. RollOnFriday recently highlighted the Islington firm's staff posing in chairs, across chairs, among chairs, on top of chairs and in fact everywhere except under a chair (perhaps it could fix that with its next hire). Then, this week, these warriors in pink swivelling chariots, the masters of all they sit in, sent RoF Towers an email attaching a photo. At first glance it looked like a ransom note for a chair:



But on closer inspection it was a kind message. Although after a while it does begin to look like a cryptic warning. The point is, they probably see the funny side. Or we're going to get pulled into a van and diced into stuffing and pushed into the seat of that chair like so much meaty padding. But hopefully not. In any event, cheers to Bolt Burdon! The best lawyers in Islington with pink chairs. Yes, of course they get a plug for emailing us a compliment. Especially because it could be a death threat. .... read more >
Online drug touts and law firms make perfect bedfellows
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08 November 2017

A law firm's website has been improved immeasurably by an instruction to buy valium.

     

Linkworths, a Stoke Newington high street firm, appears to have been infiltrated by a shifty online chemist. But rather than standing out, the summons to guzzle drugs makes perfect sense. Most people instructing lawyers, especially lawyers on Stoke Newington High Street, which is still a bit rough compared to Church Street where you've got the Whole Foods, will be stressed - stressed enough that that they should absolutely also be in the market for a decent anticonvulsant. And now they can get one, or even dozens, courtesy of Linkworths, tagline unknown, and PharmaHub24, tagline "Prevention is better than cure".

Pharmahub24 has turned Linkworths into a regular dispensary. Elsewhere the firm now states that its staff can "work effortlessly buy klonopin online for lucrative commercial businesses". 

     

At first glance it looks like a hack, but this could just as well be a mutually beneficial partnership. After all, it is impossible to work 'effortlessly' unless you are pinged out of your socks. Rolling balls so big you don't feel exhaustion. So spangled, so over the rainbow that you actually feel like you're, like, actually Linklaters.

Promoting the consumption of massive doses of benzodiazepine may appear an odd, even questionable, position for a law firm. But as an employee satisfaction strategy it is a no-brainer. Goodbye zombie workers complaining about the coffee, hello bouncy movers and shakers who occasionally experience extreme disinhibition. It also pays dividends as a client relationship plan. According to Pharmahub24, which it must be noted should not be taken at its word, klonopin gets rid of attacks of aggression. What better way to take the sting out of any invoice you send? "Steven a mint's come with the bill from Linkworths...bloody hell they'e charged far too - ...wow. Wow. Oh God. Oh God. Let me stroke your face, God I love you. I know I'm crying right now but I love our life, I love you, I love the work we do and I LOVE LINKWORTHS!"

Of course I am not recommending working in a law firm and getting bug-eyed on Klonopin. Noted side effects include drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, trembling, impaired coordination, vision problems, grogginess, feelings of depression and headaches. And the same applies to Klonopin. Boom!

Linkworths did not respond to a request for comment, too buzzed, so we don't know if this is a hacking issue or an official commercial arrangement. Either way, it's in good company. In May, the website of high-paying, hard-playing Kirkland & Ellis was injected with Viagra. .... read more >
Firm single white females Clifford Chance
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07 November 2017

A reader emailed a firm's new logo to RollOnFriday and asked whether the two-partner Maltese start-up in question was "passing itself off as associated with Clifford Chance?"

     
    Nonsense! One is painted in Mauritian Shallows and the other in the very different Maltese Surf.
     

We couldn't possibly say one way or the other. But you know what they say: if you can't beat them, join them, and if you can't join them, push the limits of copyright law at the expense of one of the biggest, most powerful firms in the world. What could go wrong? .... read more >
Top sports lawyers quit Charles Russell Speechlys to set up boutique
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23 October 2017

Four sports law partners have quit Charles Russell Speechlys to found a boutique, ravaging its sports practice in the process. You heard it here first.

Jonathan 'Edwards' Ellis, Ian 'Des' Lynam, James 'Starting' Eighteen and Jon 'The Last One Referred To Australian Rules Football' Walters announced today that they have left to set up a new firm called Northridge. In doing so they appear to have completely scalped CRS's sports practise.

That includes clients. Big hitters going with them include The Football Association, the Welsh Rugby Union, Premiership Rugby and several Premier League clubs, as well as household names (except if you know nothing about sport) like Dele Alli (nope), Thierry Henry (yep, he's a footballer), Cesc Fabregas (heard of him, kicks balls), Raheem Sterling (football) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (fencing?).

  Ellis, Eighteen, Walters (sorry Walters) and Lynam. 

In leaving they are also punting the guts out of CSR's formerly-leading sports law practice. The four partners comprised the four listed key sports law individuals at the firm. Ellis and Lynam headed up its Sports Group for the last five years. And they have taken with them 12 fee-earners. That includes three Managing Associates, four associates, three paralegals and even two first seat trainees. They clearly decided it would be much more fun striking out with a sports boutique than staying at CRS (where, staff told RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year 2017 survey, relations between some legacy Charles Russell and legacy Speechlys staff are toxic).

Partner Jason Saiban has been left in charge of the sports practice at CSR, hitting a tennis ball against a wall.

Applying a stud to the eye, Lynam said they had been “delighted with the response from all of our clients in following us to Northridge". Ellis joined him in the scrum, promising "ambitious recruitment plans". Read more on Friday. .... read more >
The lawyer who loved IP
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20 October 2017

I assumed that last week's German tax lawyers were the most enthusiastic lawyers in Germany. They expressed a stunning degree of affection for their chosen métier, one claiming "Excel is my passion", and that tax had a "thrilling legal aura which didn't let me go".

   "Hold my stein."   

Then a tipster alerted us to Raffaele Raineri's LinkedIn page. Raineri is an IP lawyer based in Munich and he bloody loves it. It is not known how he got hold of my haircut from 1994.

Raineri's lust for law prompted RollOnFriday's source to comment, somewhat unfairly, "What an absolute knobber". He does, it is true, go on like Gwyneth Paltrow espousing her gloopy Goop philosophy:



But he also deftly anticipates accusations of knobbery (see above):



Don't worry Raffaele, it doesn't come across as pretentious, because it doesn't come across. It's a buzzword salad, now please go into overdrive.



If you've spotted a lawyer being very grand about the process of submitting applications to patent minor variations in the design of a spork, carton or tube, write in. .... read more >
Used car lawyers
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19 October 2017

A reader compared last week's IP-loving Italian solicitor to Swiss Toni. But if there was ever a firm which looked like it flogged used cars, it's this bunch. Behold:



Apparently at Lincoln IP "we decipher technology", but those coordinated digits say otherwise. They say we work under bunting. They say we can three-point turn in a shoe box. They say we know our way around a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. 

I'm particularly drawn to Les Dawson. It's his louche, hand-in-pocket stance. It says enthusiastic but relaxed. It says this is not my first rodeo. Reverse is sticky because it's cold. Those melted divots are part of the steering wheel's ergonomic design. Ignore the fungal smell masked by Royal Pine freshener. And I would.

Not like Atkins Diet Peter Kay. He's hopeless. He's clearly one pulse away from sharting and knows it. He's sweating. His fallow arm is available, but what use is it? None. Help me Debra, he mutters through clenched teeth. Help me I'm gonna shart again. But even though she is right next to him, she doesn't seem to hear him.

It is because she is disgusted.

Of course the star of the show is the boss, centre stage, oblivious to the squalid human drama playing out behind him. He is concentrating on knocking that double-thumber out of the park. It's up there with the best.

    The best. 

Also, he sees you. 

  "They don't but I do. I see you. John." 

That deal may look overlawyered, but don't underestimate the complexity of Lincoln IP's work. Mrs Firthing isn't going to just fall over and pay sticker price. She wants rubber mats and a boot liner. It's going to take all of them to push this one through. Even Peter, but don't stress him out about it or he will degrade the chair. Let's just focus on shifting this Honda Jazz.

Exchange your used law news for nothing here. .... read more >

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