Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and arts from the legal world
August 19 2022 Editorial Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT?
The Managing Partner of CMS, Stephen Millar, has attracted considerable comment this week when he observed that lawyers at top law firms were ‘justified’ in earning massive profits as it “spoke to the quality of the service on offer”. Coming when large numbers of our fellow citizens are struggling with the cost of living crisis it struck an odd note in the national debate about what is equitable.
First, there are plenty of other professionals – such as life-saving surgeons, COVID research scientists or, indeed, criminal barristers – who are also providing a very high ‘quality’ service but are earning nothing like City law firm partners. Second, the coherence of society starts to fray when the gap between the elite and the ordinary becomes incomprehensibly wide.
The pertinent point, however, is that clients have a free choice as to where they take their business. For the time being they are prepared to pay top dollar for what they regard as premium service. But nothing stays the same for ever. Just ask Kodak.
In this week’s edition
+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– Democracy in the Dock in New Book
– SEND for Foges
– Lee & Thompson Looks to the Future
– Burges Salmon Targets Pollution
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK on insurance against cyber-attacks and compensation arising from the infected blood inquiry
LEGAL APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK at Allen & Overy and Kennedys
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
Democracy in the Dock in New Book
As was once famously observed, “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” The trouble is that, around the world from the USA to Kenya, the democratic process is being increasingly caught up in legal challenges and disputes – which means that respect for democracy is now increasingly at risk.
Or maybe not. According to The Routledge Handbook of Election Lawwhich was launched in Oxford earlier this week, ’Challenging election results is on the rise across the world – and this is a good thing.’ It was probably the landmark decision by the US Supreme Court in favour of Bush and against Gore in 2000 – thereby resolving the presidential election – which marked the move from the political arena to the courtroom for the final validation of election day. But over recent years the courts have invalidated elections or referenda in countries as varied as Austria, Kenya, Switzerland, Iceland, Malawi, and Slovenia.
“Elections are the most important political event and a celebration of democracy, but for voters to accept them, they need to see that the candidates and the authorities are following the law,” said Professor Jurij Toplak, co-editor of the book and one of the world’s leading election experts.“Over the past 20 years, courts worldwide have frequently become players in elections. Thus, judges have a vital role in safeguarding democracy. They hold the key to free and fair elections and for maintaining the trust in the process.”
With an election coming up in a couple of years in the UK we have no room for complacency. Pippa Norris, a Harvard professor, ranked countries in Western Europe according to the integrity of their elections over the past few years. Maybe predictably Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, and Sweden ranked highly. Lowest was Malta – just edged into the bottom spot by ourselves. Look at the shenanigans around the Conservative leadership contest and you can probably understand why.
SEND for Foges
Emily Foges, a partner at Deloitte Legal, has been appointed as a new trustee for the organisation Support SEND Kids. The charity helps children with ‘special educational needs and disabilities’ (SEND) to access educational support and Foges is the second lawyer to join the organisation as a trustee in the past four months following in the footsteps of Caroline Withers, the Commercial Legal Director at Virgin Media O2.
Foges joined joined Deloitte Legal in 2020 to focus on working with clients who wanted to be at the forefront of the impact that technology is having on the legal sector. She was formerly the CEO of Luminance, an AI solution for document processing. Now, in her work with SEND, her expertise will be directed at helping to create a digital workflow for applications to secure Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), and developing and publishing free and accessible guides to the law.
“We are thrilled to welcome Emily on board,” said Rachel Amos, co-founder of Support SEND Kids, “Her skillset matches our needs perfectly, and we are confident that her experience in rolling out technological innovations will be invaluable as we evolve our digital offering to SEND children and their families. No SEND child should be deprived of their right to educational support. With Emily’s help and that of our expanded Board of Trustees, we hope to get closer to making this a reality.”
Emily Foges has had personal experience of dealing with the bureaucracy around children who need special educational support.“Having been through the EHCP journey with my family, I know just how challenging the process can be,” she said. “With 9 out of 10 appeals finding in favour of families rather than councils, it is clear that the current EHCP process puts pressure on family resources and court time, as well as causing untold emotional distress to families and needlessly interrupting the education of children.”
Lee & Thompson Looks to the Future
With A level results released this week the mood music around celebrations by successful candidates suggests that the golden road to career success is now open.
But as many undergraduate law students quickly realise, they have only just started. It is a long and demanding haul to secure a traineeship – especially in the most popular firms. That is why Lee & Thompson has been doing its bit this Summer for the next generation via its Vacation Scheme to help students gain a better understanding of legal practice and the specific qualities required in media law.
“Designed to expose the group to life as Lee & Thompson lawyers, our structured learning and development workshops encouraged participants to experience office working, networking and team collaboration,” explained the firm. “In addition to scenario-based group challenges, the week incorporated individual exercises as well as dealings with partners and associates across our Film, Television & Games, Music, Corporate & Commercial and Dispute Resolution departments. The programme included icebreakers, overviews of our business operations and even social elements, which were joined by around half of the firm’s staff.”
The Vacation Scheme was set up by Lee & Thompson as part of its ‘Inclusion Network’, designed to ‘open doors’ and inspire future solicitors that working in a specialist firm for the media and creative industries is an attainable and appealing prospect. It seemed to go down well with the eleven lucky students who took part. “Thank you for organising such a well-planned, stimulating, and enjoyable vacation scheme… I learnt a lot through the process,” said one participant.
Burges Salmon Targets Pollution
Burges Salmon has joined the growing number of firms who have resolved to cut significantly their carbon emissions by announcing their intention to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 50% by 2030 (from a 2019 base year). The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has assessed and approved the firm’s plans and has classified the its target as being currently in line with the most ambitious designation available through the SBTi process.
Roger Bull, Burges Salmon’s Managing Partner, says: “Our decision to submit to the Science Based Target initiative is about recognising and responding to the needs of our environment, in line with the firm’s belief that the scale of change required is huge, wanting to help our clients rise to the challenge and benefit from the opportunities to capitalise on the technology, projects and investment that will flow into organisations addressing climate change.
“We are committed to an approach of emissions reduction first, use of renewables second and use of offsets as the last resort – we are therefore proud to have been deemed to be in conformance with the SBTi Criteria and Recommendations.”
The firm says that it is ‘passionate’ about a Net Zero future, advocating for positive action and collaboration to make this a reality, having pledged to make the business net zero by the end of 2026. The firm has partnered with conservation charity Trees for Life and is one of the founding members of the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance and the Legal Sustainability Alliance.
LEGAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK
TOPIC: The announcement by Lloyd’s of London that it wants insurers to exclude state-sponsored cyberattacks from the scope of the cover they sell, in a bid to tackle what it believes to be systemic risks to the market.
COMMENT BY: Ed Anderson Partner at Browne Jacobson
“The news that Lloyds will shortly require all standalone cyber attack policies to exclude state sponsored attacks is welcome and overdue. Whilst some policies already exclude this, the requirement will bring long awaited certainty and additional uniformity to the Lloyds cyber market and will likely be followed by others. Traditional war exclusions are unlikely to apply and the systemic risk to the market is too great given the sophistication of the hackers and potential scale of the losses. This has been demonstrated recently not only by the increase in the number of such attacks but also by some of the targets chosen, for example attacks on nuclear power stations.”
TOPIC: The Government’s announcement that it has agreed to make an interim payment to directly affected victims of the contaminated blood scandal
“In recent weeks the Infected Blood Inquiry has heard from the likes of Sir John Major, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Hunt that people in positions of responsibility in the Department of Health knew that infected blood victims were wronged and that compensation was obviously due yet, for approaching 40 years, a powerful Government machine deliberately looked the other way and failed to do the right thing. It is the same Government machine that we see in action today.
“We urge the new Cabinet that will be assembled in September to prioritise the remainder of Sir Robert Francis QC’s recommendations as a matter of urgency. He has proposed a detailed and comprehensive compensation framework enabling full compensation to all who are entitled including the bereaved parents and children and the Estates of the deceased. Given the lack of mention of them in today’s announcement, yet again it is as if these victims do not exist.
“The Infected Blood Inquiry continues its good work under Sir Brian Langstaff. However, it would be frustrating if the victims have to wait for the Inquiry’s final report before a meaningful compensation mechanism is put in place. They have already waited decades and any argument that we need more evidence of the fact the Government must be held to account is now untenable.”
APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
ALLEN & OVERY
Harsh Pais is joining Allen & Overy in London as a partner to lead its India Corporate practice. He will be working as part of A&O’s India Group which operates across London, Singapore, Dubai, New York and Silicon Valley.
Pais is a well-established market-leader in Indian corporate M&A and has a extensive recognised expertise advising multinational corporations and private equity funds investing into India. He has a particular focus on energy, technology and financial services.
“Harsh has an outstanding reputation for advising major players focused on India,” said David Broadley, co-head of global Corporate. “As the world’s second fastest growing major economy, in the last three years India has attracted USD159 billion of inbound investment. As a market of increasing focus for clients, India is an important part of our global strategy and a hire of Harsh’s calibre and pedigree is key to us realising our ambitions there. His insight on this exciting and dynamic market will be invaluable to our global team and international clients.”
Matthew Poli is joining Kennedys as a partner in its growing corporate and commercial division. He will be based in London but will work with clients globally on a broad range of non-contentious matters including mergers and acquisitions, private equity fundraising, joint ventures, restructuring, corporate finance and governance advisory.
Formerly with BLM, Poli has wide experience in cases involving complex share issues, swaps, buy-backs, reductions and demergers with values exceeding £1.5 billion.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build on Kennedys’ already successful corporate practice as the firm’s global reach provides a significant platform for future growth,” says Poli. “For international clients, that worldwide network of specialists with expertise across so many jurisdictions is an extremely attractive proposition.”
Kennedys’ global corporate and commercial group has seen rapid expansion and now has more than 150 lawyers working across multiple jurisdictions including the UK, US and Bermuda, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.
Enjoy any forthcoming rain. Meanwhile we shall be back next week so please send your Diary stories, legal comment and insights to