Friday 10 September 2021
Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
‘IP, IP Orray at Mishcon?
News that Mishcon de Reya has officially begun the IPO process en route to becoming the UK’s largest listed law firm will have given a fresh nudge to the possible transformation of the London legal scene. It is no coincidence, maybe, that the news arrives in concert with the announcement that the firm is launching a strategic partnership with Harbour, one of the largest dedicated litigation and arbitration funders. This will create a new litigation finance venture called MDR Solutions I to fund litigation and arbitration cases for Mishcon de Reya’s clients using a sophisticated data science capability built by the firm over a number of years.
Without question this is how the most dynamic law firms of the future will function with a combination of financial muscle, leading edge data and IT – plus terrific legal skills. The structures needed to drive such enterprise might well demand listed status. But the experience so far of other firms which have gone down that route has been mixed. Maybe it takes the exceptional talents at Mishcon to get it right (and will that include getting rid of those ‘colonial images’ above their HQ in Africa House?)
The Legal Diarist
PLEASE NOTE: The Legal Diarist is travelling over the next month. There will be no Legal Diary next week but we will resume on Friday 24th
In this week’s edition
+ LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
– Social Audits Not Up To The Job Legally?
– Irwin Mitchell Strengthens its Human Rights Offer
– Departure Time for Department Stores
– The HERoes Women Role Model List
+ CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK
– LEGALLY LEADING by Iain Blatherwick
– LEGAL HISTORY OF MARRIAGE by Emma Nash
+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK at Fladgate and Excello
LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
Social Audits Not Up To The Job Legally?
Social audit firms are doing a poor job in checking out the credentials and performance of businesses around the world according to a new report from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre identifies which makes a strong case for social audits to be rejected as proof of human rights due diligence.
“The social audit industry has rightly come under increasing scrutiny for its role in sustaining tolerance of abuse in company supply chains,” it claims. “It is time the social audit industry is held to account for false or negligent claims which hide the truth of abuse against workers.”
The report is pegged to the anniversary of the fatal fire at the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan (11 September 2012) in 250 workers fied despite the fact that it had been declared a safe working space by a social audit firm only a few weeks before. Horribly they were trapped behind barred windows in a building which had only one useable fire exit.
So what legal redress is there when consultancies have let down so badly both their clients and the affected workers? The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is now advocating the lodging of legal claims against social audit firms as a way of creating legal accountability for the industry. ‘New laws and regulations must not equate social audits with human rights due diligence, or see them as a plausible substitute’ it argues and, moreover, social auditing firms must be subject to mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (mHREDD) legislation.
“Although there remain significant legal and contractual challenges in holding social audit firms liable, there is growing appetite for reform, including the introduction of mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (mHREDD) legislation which offers an opportunity to address barriers to justice,” said Maysa Zorob, Corporate Legal Accountability Program Manager at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. “We must ensure social audit firms, as companies, are subject to mHREDD, which would require them, by law, to identify, prevent, mitigate, account for adverse human rights impacts and be held liable for harm. This could provide a new basis for social audit liability, even when existing national law does not.”
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Corporate Legal Accountability Portalexplores the legal responsibility of companies for human rights abuses, including through legislation and litigation. This hub provides latest news, analysis, resources, and cases on CLA to help advocates end corporate impunity for human rights abuses.
Irwin Mitchell Strengthens its Human Rights Offer
Irwin Mitchell has boosted the profile of its Public Law and Human Rights Team with the recruitment of new partner Angela Jackman QC (Hon) whom they describe as ‘one of the best known and respected human rights and discrimination case champions’.
Jackman has already enjoyed a glittering career starting with studying at Balliol College, Oxford followed by legal qualification and then going on to Hackney Community Law Centre. She then joined City Law School in 2015 as senior lecturer/CPD consultant and gained an appointment as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has also spent time at Simpson Millar. Meanwhile earlier this year she was appointed Honorary QC and named one of City’s ‘Extraordinary Women’, marking International Woman’s Day.
The move to Irwin Mitchell unites her with what she describes as a firm with a ‘reputation for success in strategic cases that have led to important changes in the law’. “I am thrilled to be taking on this new challenge and ensuring that this vital work continues for the benefit of our clients and the wider community,” she said.
Notable among a number of Jackman’s high profile successes has been the ‘cornrows school exclusion’ judicial review, where the High Court held a school’s policy prohibiting African-Caribbean boys having their hair in cornrows resulted in indirect racial discrimination.
Departure Time for Department Stores
What should be done when an anchor store like Debenhams shuts its doors for the last time leaving a gaping hole in the High Street? Across the land, from major regional towns to cathedral cities, that has been the ugly picture of the past year. Depending on the resilience of the immediate area it could be either a catastrophe or, in same cases, a blessing in disguise by releasing space for enterprises which, previously, could not get a look in.
That at least is the view of optimistic Simone Protheroe, an associate in the construction team at Clarke Willmott LLP, who thinks that vacant department store properties could be the answer to the growing demand for mixed-use development sites.
“Individual retail chains are unlikely to want such large spaces anymore and department stores are often situated in areas not particularly suited to becoming purely residential units,” she says. “Enter mixed-use developments, the perfect solution to seeing these (often historic) buildings re-occupied.”
Certainly in the town where the LegalDiarist lives is there is already a lively debate as to whether recently vacated large sites should be re-occupied by a relocated street market or the long awaited cultural and historical centre.
But why not mix them all up? The traditional strict demarcation of purpose has had a restraining effect on growth. Simone believes using department stores as mixed-use sites opens up ‘a world of opportunity for innovative solutions’.
And for sure innovative solutions is what we are all looking for right now.
Waiting for a HERoe
The HERoes Women Role Model Lists – which are supported by Yahoo Finance – puts the spotlight on leaders who are championing women in business and driving change for gender diversity in the workplace.
The individuals featured for 2021 range across HSBC Bank Argentina, National Grid, IBM, Goldman Sachs and other major corporates and Government departments. Also numbered amongst them is a group of of lawyers including Sultana Tafadar (barrister at No 5 Chambers), Chidi Onyeche (an associate at Latham & Watkins), Anne Collins (a senior associate at Clifford Chance), Ligia Lima Godoy (a senior Associate at Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr r Quiroga Advogados), Sarah Primrose (an Associate at King & Spalding), Amy Bird (a senior associate at Clifford Chance). Plaxides Makura, (a legal manager at Herbert Smith in South Africa), Louise Woods (a partner at Vinson & Elkins).
Commenting on the recognition Louise Woods said, “The legal sector is making progress in terms of equality but there is still some way to go. I firmly believe that diversity results in better business, and initiatives like HERoes are great tools that can demonstrate best practice, share ideas and instigate change.”
For full details go to 2021 HERoes 100 Women Future Leaders List.
CONTRIBUTED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK
LEGALLY LEADING by Iain Blatherwick
In the first in a new series of articles the former Browne Jacobson Managing Partner turned coach, Iain Blatherwick briefly outlines the pressures and responsibilities that come with leading a successful law firm and highlights the importance of why mental wellbeing should be high on every law firm leader’s personal agenda.
Law firm leaders and leaders in general often feel pressure to have a calm, reassuring, determined presence – regardless of how they may actually feel, meaning they do not take enough time to look out for themselves or ensure they have the right team around them for mutual support.
With the profile and influence to have positive and negative impact on those around them, it is essential that leaders retain the energy and passion needed for the role. No-one wants to see a leader looking ‘frazzled’, a recent high-profile incident springs to mind where the Chair of a well-known UK business had to backtrack on controversial comments he made around the way people in the firm were reacting to the impacts that the Pandemic had bought. These would have been said partly through pressure, frustrations and exhaustion, and no doubt later regretted.
It is important that leaders take time to step back from the day to day demands of their role and achieve a better balance between those tasks which are enjoyable, suit their skill set and give energy and those which drain, but simply have to be done.
Mental wellbeing is undoubtedly high on many businesses’ agenda in 2021 with various mental health initiatives to support their people but what is in place for legal leaders and leaders in general when the going gets tough? Is there still a taboo around leaders taking up on these initiatives themselves? It is progress that we are seeing a shift from the somewhat archaic heroic leader model, where weaknesses should be hidden, to one where leaders can be more open about their own challenges. A CBI report on mental health in business post-Pandemic suggests that if businesses want to encourage an open culture or a safe space for its people to share and seek support then leaders should lead the way in being more transparent about their own struggles.
Sometimes a leader can feel that all the responsibility ultimately rests on their shoulders, but in order for a legal business to thrive, a great leadership team will be in place who are equally passionate about the organisation, will happily share that burden and will be shoulder to shoulder in helping deal with all challenges a business faces. In short, alongside every good leader is a strong leadership team and both need to support each other though the tough times that they are likely to face over the next few years without worrying about who will get the credit. (415)
Iain Blatherwick spent 11 years successfully leading law firm Browne Jacobson during a period of unprecedented growth and key expansion. Since stepping down from the managing partner role, Iain has completed the Academy of Executive Coaching’s (AOEC) practitioner Diploma Programme in executive coaching and is accredited by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC). He recently launched Space + Time, an executive coaching programme aimed at c-suite level business leaders which offers support in horizon scanning and key decision making.
LEGAL HISTORY OF MARRIAGE
by Emma Nash, Partner Fletcher Day
Marriage in the 17th Century – Power & Progeny
During the 17th century, marriage was used by the elite families in Europe to strengthen political power, gain territories, seal alliances and produce male heirs. Romantic marriage was left to the poorer classes and in some cases was thought to be counter to marriage with romantic love sometimes being considered a form of insanity.
The political benefits of a union were often prioritised over the physical compatibility of a couple to reproduce. Such unions were prevalent throughout the Royal families of Europe. This meant that the couple were sometimes too young or too old at the tie of marriage to reproduce or too closely related to produce healthy offspring. The Hapsburg dynasty, for example, was ended after Philip IV married his niece, Marianna of Austria, and their son, Charles II (born in 1661), suffered from physical and mental difficulties and produced no children. Marianna was Philip’s second wife, as he had initially married Elizabeth of France when he was only 10 years old and she was 13.
These royal marriages were regulated by a contract which dealt with the payment of a dowry, financial provision during the marriage and in widowhood and consequences if she were ever to re-marry such as relinquishing royal entitlements.
Meanwhile, in China, which was under the Qing dynasty at the time, there was a similar obsession with producing male heirs and regulation of women within the family. Marriages were arranged by the groom’s parents with the focus on finding suitable daughters-in-law rather than a suitable partners for their sons. It was believed that the family line, and the ability to serve and preserve the ancestors, passed through male descendants only. Without a male heir, the ancestral line became extinct. To avoid this there was the option of taking a concubine. This was sometimes with the blessing of, or selected by, the wife. The relationship of both wife and concubine were regulated. While subject to the authority of the husband, a wife had power within the family including over all children regardless of whether they were born to her or a concubine. A concubine could be elevated to wife when the wife died but only if she had produced a male heir. There was also a strict prohibition on a wife re-marrying which extended to concubines and severe punishments if either committed a crime against the family such as adultery.
APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
Kate Troup is joining Fladgate as a Partner within the firm’s Funds, Finance and Regulation (FFR) practice. She was was previously with Charles Russell Speechlys where she worked for over 11 years as a Partner in the firm’s Financial Services team. Prior to that she was at Farrer & Co, where she began her career.
Troup specialises in the investment management and private banking sectors, advising UK and international firms that wish to provide investment and banking services in the UK market. She has advised private banks on the legal aspects of lending and deposit facilities, as well as the structuring and documentation of bank account services in the UK.
Ella Leonard, Head of FFR at Fladgate, commented, “Kate’s arrival at Fladgate furthers our efforts to build out and cultivate a breadth of carefully shaped services for both business and private clients that have fast-moving, complex challenges, requiring a mix of solutions delivered with genuinely personal service from their lawyers.”
Alexis Colfer has joined Excello Law (winner of the Modern Law Award 2018 for ‘ABS of the Year’ and The Law Society’s Excellence Award 2017 for ‘Excellence in Law Management’) in its southern practice based in Hampshire. Colfer has spent the past five years with Konexo global, the professional resource division of Eversheds-Sutherland LLP and prior to that was in-house with the IT, marketing, e-money, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors.
“I could see how using firms like Excello could mean lower fees for clients, without sacrificing the quality of the advice,” says Colfer. “I’m really pleased to see that Excello Law’s model has proven to be so successful for its lawyers and their clients, and I now look forward to being part of a great team of like-minded lawyers.”
Joanne Losty, director at Excello Law commented, “We are committed to significant expansion across the South and we’re seeing great interest from lawyers across all disciplines who are looking for greater freedom to build their practice and support their clients.”
|The City post-Brexit: with Barney Reynolds (Shearman & Sterling), Kirstina Combe (LME) and John Godfrey (Legal & General)CLICK HERE TO WATCHWhy you should watch: Barney Reynolds is one of the most senior financial services lawyers in the City – and a lot more positive on the opportunities that are opened up by Brexit than some of his peers. But he is not starry-eyed. Are we doing as much as we can to exploit the advantages that a common law tradition ought to give us? Are we imposing too many layers of regulation where fewer are needed? His prescription: ‘Fewer rules; better drafting’. He is also concerned that we may be trying to shoehorn too much into regulation – especially issues (like diversity and inclusion) that might be better left to the law. Other thoughts on GDPR, on data more generally, and on the positive messages of the Hill Report. Moderator: Andrew Hilton (Director, CSFI)|
There is an exciting opportunity for in-house lawyers to take Net Zero leadership in their organisations
Businesses and public bodies are facing increasing pressure to align with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, and individuals want to align their work with their values.
In-house counsel are ideally placed to help deliver meaningful climate action as internal advocates for robust application of ESG principles – often being seen as trusted advisers and the corporate conscience.
As the UN’s Race to Zero speeds up, governments and policy makers are increasingly using legislation, taxation incentives and public procurement to signal that climate considerations are now good business practice. Investors and corporate customers are also making increasing ESG demands. Furthermore there is increasing public concern at the accelerating pace of the climate crisis.
Within this context in-house lawyers are taking leadership with their organisations to accelerate the transition.
Please join us for an interactive webinar, with
Adam Woodhall, Chief Executive, Lawyers for Net Zero,
Will Morris, Chief Counsel of Rolls Royce, Civil Aerospace and Charlotte Phillips, Legal Advisor, Kingfisher Group.
Date: Tuesday 12 October 2021 Time: 1100-1200 (BST) including bonus Q&A 1200-1215.
|Please click the Accept button to register for this webinar. Once you have registered you will be sent a confirmation email with full details.If you have any questions, queries or comments, please contact us at email@example.com
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|Find out how in-house lawyers are:Championing legitimate Net Zero;Supporting their organisation to guard against greenwashing; andDelivering climate action, including work on contracts and supply chains. Discussing their experience will be the Lawyers for Net Zero champions: Will Morris, Chief Counsel of Rolls Royce, Civil Aerospace Charlotte Phillips, Legal Advisor, Kingfisher Group.Case studies, top tips, good practice and key learnings will be shared by the panellists.You’ll also learn how Lawyers for Net Zero help in-house counsel deliver on this agenda.After the main session finishes, there will be an additional bonus 15 minute Q&A session with the panel.|
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PLEASE NOTE There will be NO Legal Diary next week while the LegalDiarist is travelling and only a slimmed down travel version until October 15th. But please continue sending your Diary stories to