Category “LegalCheek”

Inner and Middle Temple come together to help Ukrainian lawyers find UK legal work

Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

New database matches candidates with suitable employment opportunities

Inner Temple and Middle Temple are looking to provide practical employment support to Ukrainian lawyers through a new ‘matching scheme’ launched this week.

The Inns say the programme is open to Ukrainian lawyers and legal professionals currently based in the UK, many of whom have been seeking opportunities to work within the UK legal profession since fleeing the war in their home country.

The duo say these opportunities can include providing legal advice, undertaking research, or providing administrative or clerical assistance.

The scheme will collect the details of UK-based Ukrainian lawyers and those of individual barristers and chambers who are willing to offer work opportunities, mentoring or other support. It will then seek to match candidates with a suitable barrister or chambers within two weeks, based on criteria including location, practice areas, experience and opportunities sought and offered.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

The Inns are also in discussions with the Ukrainian Bar Association and other networks to connect with Ukrainian lawyers who are already in the UK.

Ukrainian lawyers interested in the scheme can submit their details here, while barristers and chambers can submit their information here.

The Inns say issues relating to financial compensation must be discussed between the two parties directly.

This isn’t the only initiative aiming to help Ukrainian lawyers displaced by the war. Earlier this year Legal Cheek reported that London legal recruiter Fides Search was looking to place legal professionals into UK-based roles on a “no fee” basis.

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BCLP retains 14 of 18 UK trainees

Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

One on fixed term deal

International law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has retained 14 of its 18 UK trainees due to qualify next month.

All fourteen qualify into London with a further rookie making the switch from the firm’s Hong Kong office. Two trainees in Manchester secured roles elsewhere.

In terms of practice areas, five join litigation & investigations, five qualify into corporate & finance transactions and a further five start lawyer life in real estate.

With one new recruit on a fixed term deal, this hands BCLP a UK retention score of 78% or 72% depending on your reading of the numbers.

Applications are open for the Legal Cheek September UK Virtual Law Fair 2022

Head of emerging talent, Chloe Muir, said:

“It’s great to be able to extend a high number of offers to the autumn qualifiers and see a high retention rate in this market. Attracting, developing, investing in and retaining high-calibre future lawyers remains a key priority and commitment for us as a firm.”

Carol Osborne, training principal, added: “I’m delighted that so many of the latest newly qualified trainees have decided to continue their careers with us. We very much look forward to seeing them progress onto the next stage of their legal careers.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows the firm’s latest crop of associates will start on a salary of £95,000, up from year two trainee rate of £52,000.

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Future lawyers could bill ‘units of attention’ via computers hooked up to their brains, report claims

Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

Law Society commissioned report reveals possible uses of neurotech in legal profession 🧠 💡

Credit – X-Men: First Class

A leading academic has suggested that lawyers could one day use neurotechnology to charge clients via “billable units of attention”.

The report, Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession, which was commissioned by Law Society of England and Wales, considers the potential uses and challenges of neurotechnologies that connect users brains to computers.

The academic who complied the report, the University of Sydney’s Dr Allan McCay, discusses the possibility that lawyers might try to compete with other lawyers and AI systems employed in legal work by making use of neurotechnology.

Neurotechnology requires some sort of brain-computer interface. There are various methods currently being used and trialled from placing implants in a user’s brain to simply wearing a headset or wristband. This technology has already been used by medical professionals to treat Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

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It is thought that the technology has great potential to help monitor and treat schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. But it has also caused researchers like McCay to raise ethical concerns about issues such as the right to privacy, control over data produced by one’s brain and even brain hacking.

“This tech is coming, and we need to think about regulation now,” notes Dr McCay. “Action is needed now as there are already vested interests in the commercial world. We need decisions to be made at the level of society and at the level of businesses around ethics and law.”

It’s impact on criminal law and the criminal justice system is another important theme for Dr McCay. His research moots the idea of brain-bracelets being worn by criminal offenders to track their thoughts, court orders being granted that ensure your brain is monitored at all times and considers the possibility of criminalising and sentencing thoughts that become criminal acts.

According to Dr McCay, this all “raises human rights concerns and there is now an important debate as to whether existing human rights protections are fit for purpose given the possibility of brain-monitoring and manipulation.”

You can access the full report here.

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Linklaters partner profits up 5% to £1.9 million

Tuesday, 9 August, 2022

Revenue is up too

Magic Circle law firm Linklaters has posted 6.5% growth in revenues in its latest financial results.

The firm recorded revenues of £1.78 billion whilst its profit per equity partner (PEP) increased 5% to £1.87 million.

According to Paul Lewis, Linklaters’ firmwide managing partner, this comes off the back of “increased revenues from robust markets and sustained deal activity over the past financial year”.

Applications are open for the Legal Cheek September UK Virtual Law Fair 2022

Lewis added: “In a post pandemic world with growing political and economic uncertainty, our clients require complex legal solutions. The investments we have made over the year have ensured that we are able to provide the right combination of global coverage and high-quality cross practice expertise. To excel for our clients we need to be nimble, bold and decisive in our approach, which we will continue to be as we look ahead to the next financial year.”

Magic Circle revenue and PEP for financial year 21/22

Ranking Revenue PEP
1 Clifford Chance (£1.97 billion) Freshfields (£2.07 million)
2 Allen & Overy (£1.94 billion) Clifford Chance (£2.04 million)
3 Linklaters (£1.78 billion) Allen & Overy (£1.95 million)
4 Freshfields (£1.7 billion) Linklaters (£1.87 million)

This rounds off the Magic Circle’s financials for the year with Linklaters being the last of the group to report its results. Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy all recorded partner profits around the £2 million mark. Slaughter and May does not usually publish financial results.

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Criminal barristers to vote on ‘uninterrupted strike action’

Tuesday, 9 August, 2022

Move would be an escalation of alternating weeks of action adopted since late June

CBA chair Jo Sidhu QC addresses crowds outside the Central Criminal Court during as strike in June – Credit @jonblackbsb

Criminal barristers in England and Wales will vote on whether to ramp up strike action in protest over government set fees for legal aid work, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has confirmed.

The CBA will ballot members over the coming weeks on whether to adopt “uninterrupted strike action”, an escalation of the current alternating weeks of action implemented since late June. The ballot closes on 21 August, and if the majority of members vote in favour of the move it will begin on 5 September.

The current programme of alternating weeks of strike action will continue in the interim, the CBA confirmed.

The representative body said “whether the majority view is to maintain the current level of action or, alternatively, to escalate it, any action will continue indefinitely unless and until there is a substantial positive movement from government that would warrant a review of the CBA’s position by way of a further ballot”.

Although the government said it had accepted an independent review’s recommendation to thrown an extra £135 million a year into the criminal legal aid sector, the CBA has previously argued the increase in fees under the deal will “not be sufficient to retain enough criminal barristers to keep the wheels of justice turning”.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List 2022

News of the possible escalation comes some four months after the criminal bar first implemented a ‘no returns’ policy — barristers agree not to accept cases that are returned by colleagues who have a diary clash — over their longstanding concerns with legal aid funding.

In June CBA members then agreed to stage a series of escalating walkouts from 27 June, with barristers encouraged to protest outside various court buildings across the country.

“The extensive disruption we have seen clearly demonstrates to the public and to Government that the continuing refusal of the Justice Secretary to negotiate a fair settlement with criminal barristers comes at a very heavy price”, the CBA said. “That price is measured by the thousands of pounds wasted each day that a courtroom sits idle or underused, and the shattered lives of complainants, defendants and witnesses who have already suffered unconscionable delays only to be told that their cases cannot proceed for want of a defence barrister.”

The Justice Secretary Dominic Raab previously described the action as “regrettable” and encouraged barristers to accept what he says equates to a “15% pay rise”.

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Scottish training contracts set to hit record high

Tuesday, 9 August, 2022

On track to surpass 2021 record of 744

Trainee solicitor numbers in Scotland look set to reach record highs this year, according to new figures published by the Law Society of Scotland.

The latest snapshot shows the Society has already registered 316 training contacts for the period to end of July 2022, surpassing the 299 logged at the same point last year. This, the representative body says, is “well above” the long-term average.

While a final total for this year remains some months away, the Society notes that the vast majority of traineeships are typically commenced in August and September each year — so expect this 316 figure to rise sharply over the coming weeks. The 2021 figure to beat is 744.

The Law Society of Scotland’s president, Murray Etherington, commented: “These numbers are a good indicator of the current state of the Scottish legal sector. They point to both business growth and confidence in our profession.”

Applications are open for the IN-PERSON Legal Cheek Scottish Law Fair 2022

He added:

“I’m really pleased for each and every one of the trainees who have been registered so far this year, and the hundreds more we expect in the coming months as August and September are typically our busiest months of the year They’ve taken an important step in making a real contribution to Scotland, and our profession.”

Meanwhile, south of the border 5,626 trainees started on their two-year training contracts in 2019-20 — an 11% dip on the previous year due in part to the pandemic. The latest figures are yet to be released.

The Legal Cheek Scottish Law Fair 2022 takes place IN-PERSON on Tuesday 25 October at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh. The Fair gives students from across Scotland the opportunity to meet the nation’s leading law firms. Register to attend.

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Trowers joins firms upping junior lawyer pay in the regions

Tuesday, 9 August, 2022

£60k base salary

Trowers & Hamlins has increased pay for its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers working in the Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester offices to £60,000. This an increase of £13,000, or 20%, from £50,000.

The firm’s London NQ rates are also on the up, £77,500 to £80,000.

Paul Marco, joint managing partner and head of dispute resolution at Trowers, commented: “In all our locations we strive to ensure that we’re on-market for our people. Other firms have also been pushing salaries up, and we have now landed in the right place for our NQs.”

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The firm last increased pay at the beginning of the year which brought NQ rates in the regions and London to £50,000 and £77,500.

This is the latest rise as the NQ pay war has extended to the regions. Recently DLA Piper, Addleshaw Goddard and Shoosmiths have all seen rises to around the £60k mark, whilst Hogan Lovells currently tops the tables offering its Birmingham NQs £70,000.

Regional rises: how things stand…

Firm Trainee pay (Year 1) Trainee pay (Year 2) NQ base rate
Addleshaw Goddard Leeds and Manchester: £29,500; Scotland: £25,000 Leeds and Manchester: £32,000; Scotland: £28,000 Leeds and Manchester: £62,000; Scotland: £56,000
BCLP Manchester: £30,000 Manchester: £35,000 Manchester: £51,000
CMS Bristol: £41,500; Manchester and Sheffield: £30,000; Edinburgh and Glasgow: £26,775 Bristol: £42,525; Manchester and Sheffield: £33,075; Edinburgh and Glasgow: £29,925 Bristol: £61,000; Manchester and Sheffield: £51,750; Edinburgh and Glasgow: £51,750
DLA Piper All regional offices: £30,000 All regional offices: £33,000 All regional offices: £65,000
Eversheds Sutherland All regional offices: £28,500 All regional offices: £31,000 All regional offices: £62,000
Gowling WLG Birmingham: £29,000 Birmingham: £32,000 Birmingham: £52,000
Hogan Lovells Birmingham: £32,000 Birmingham: £35,000 Birmingham: £70,000
Pinsent Masons All regional offices: £27,000 All regional offices: £30,000 All regional offices: £61,000
RPC Bristol: £35,000 Bristol: £36,000 Bristol: £56,000
Shoosmiths Regions: £28,500; Edinburgh: £26,500 Regions: £29,500; Edinburgh: £27,500 Regions: £58,000; Scotland: £54,500; Thames Valley: £63,800
Simmons & Simmons Bristol: £40,500 Bristol: £42,500 Bristol: £68,000
Squire Patton Boggs All regional offices: £30,000 All regional offices: £33,000 All regional offices: £65,000
Trowers & Hamlins All regional offices: £30,000 All regional offices: £32,000 All regional offices: £60,000

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Magic Circle NQ lawyers charged out at £600 per hour, new data suggests

Monday, 8 August, 2022

Rates for top partners hits £1,500 — double compared to 15 years ago

The hourly rates of a newly qualified (NQ) associate at a top Magic Circle or US law firm can be as much as £600, new data suggests.

The eye-catching figures, compiled by legal costs expert Jim Diamond, also show that Magic Circle partners’ rates have doubled compared to 15 years ago, whilst, according to the Bank of England, inflation has risen 36% over the same 15-year period. Magic Circle partner rates currently sit between £1000-£1500, while US firm partners typically charge between £950-£1350, according to Diamond’s figures.

Magic Circle (left), US law firms (centre), Top London law firms (non-US and non-Magic Circle) (right) (Data source: Jim Diamond)

The research suggests the hourly rates for lawyers at Magic Circle and US law firms with between zero and two years post qualification experience (PQE) sit at £450-£600, while those at five PQE can charge up to £850.

Between 2000 and 2021, revenues produced by the UK legal sector have shot up from £8.6 billion to £41.6 billion with over two-thirds of this generated by the top 100 firms.

Magic Circle law firms

Year NQ-2 years PQE 5 years PQE Partner
2003 £175-£185 £245-£280 £375-£450
2005 £180-£215 £250-£300 £425-£525
2007 £235-£250 £375-£450 £625-£700
2008 £250 £350-£400 £600-£750
2009 £250 £375 £450
2010 £300-£350 £450-£550 £650-£725
2013 £350-£425 £450-£550 £700-£850
2015 £350-£500 £500-£575 £775-£850
2022 £450-£600 £650-£850 £1000-£1500

Diamond believes the recent series of junior lawyer salary rises explains why NQs are now charging around what partners would charge back in 2007 (not taking inflation into account).

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“The Magic Circle law firms are paying in region of £125,000 for NQ lawyers whereas the US law firms are paying £160,000 for NQ. One US law firm smashing records in the legal market place by paying just shy of £180,000. In 2015 the US law firms were paying in the region of £90,000 in comparison to Magic Circle law firms paying in the region of £70,000 for NQs,” says Diamond who is the author of The Legal Extortion Racket which is coming out later this year.

He notes: “The simple logic is with these huge increases in salaries will be passed on to the law firms respective clients. This is not meant as a criticism of NQs themselves as the 24/7 work commitment is the price they pay. I just wonder how many of them are still in the legal industry in 10 years’ time.”

US law firms

Year NQ-2 years PQE 5 years PQE Partner
2007 £215-£225 £325-£360 £450-£500
2008 £225 £300-£375 £425-£500
2009 £250 £375 £450
2010 £250-£300 £450-£550 £500-£600
2013 £275-£325 £450-£550 £550-£700
2015 £375-£525 £500-£595 £700-£900
2022 £450-£600 £700-£850 £950-£1350

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White & Case retains 16 of 19 autumn NQ lawyers

Monday, 8 August, 2022

Start on £140k

White & Case has posted a score of 84% for the autumn 2022 retention season.

From a qualifying cohort of 19, the New York headquartered player confirmed 16 final seat trainees were offered and accepted newly qualified (NQ) roles. All are on permanent deals.

The new recruits qualify into practices areas including capital markets, commercial litigation, debt finance, international arbitration, mergers & acquisitions, project development and finance, tax and white collar.

Two trainees are joining the firm’s offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, “reflecting the global importance of English law at White & Case”.

Applications are open for the Legal Cheek September UK Virtual Law Fair 2022

Those qualifying into London will start on a salary of £140,000, up from a year two trainee rate of £57,000. The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows the firm offers around 50 training contracts each year.

“London trainees at White & Case receive high quality training and gain unique experience through our comprehensive trainee programme, international seats and exposure to complex cross-border matters,” said White & Case partner Inigo Esteve, who heads the trainee solicitor programme in London. “Combined with our highly competitive salary and benefits package this makes White & Case an attractive destination for intelligent and ambitious trainee lawyers.”

Earlier this year the firm recorded a spring retention rate of 83% (19 out of 23).

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What history’s worst family feud teaches us about divorce law reforms

Monday, 8 August, 2022

Meet the mad and murderous Dineley Gooderes

The prize for history’s worst family feud is undoubtedly hard to judge. But the breakdown of the marriage between John Dineley Goodere and Mary Lawford in the eighteenth century and the subsequent demise of the Goodere Dineleys is surely in the running.

The fateful tragedy started back in 1717. Following the death of his older brother, the second eldest son of the Dineley Goodere family, John, was forced to give up his life as a merchant marine in India and later a volunteer on HMS Diamond in war against France and take over the family estates. This meant by the age of 33 he had control over the large family house on the Dineley side and 1,600 acres of land from the Goodere side.

That year John decided to expand his wealth by marrying Mary Lawford, a 14-year-old with a valuable estate and inheritance lined up. By 1726, John looked like he was in an extremely strong position with an income of £4,800 (worth around £665,000 in today) per year and three houses.

However, he appears to have suffered from a hereditary mental instability, a terrible temper and a potent vindictiveness. The fact that he groundlessly imprisoned and ordered to be beaten a woman who had testified in support of his cousin in an earlier family lawsuit and needlessly carried out the last ever trial by ordeal on record in English history in an attempt to root out a suspected witch is more than a little hint of what he was capable of. Such acts saw his membership of the House of Lords revoked just four years after he was made a peer.

It is therefore unsurprising that he did not respond well to strains in his marriage. Nor was his relationship helped by the fact that both he and his wife Mary were drunkards. After several violent arguments (John abusively chained up Mary on two occasions: for 36 hours following his wife’s jealously over John’s alleged closeness with one of their female servants in 1726 and for several days following Mary’s attempted elopement with Sir Robert Jason in 1730), the pair took their fight to the courts.

This is where the family was to be plunged into a legal nightmare that was to destroy their fortune. Both used the courts to try and bankrupt one another. After John went back on a private separation agreement, he deliberately tried to run up Mary’s legal costs which resulted in her being imprisoned for a short time. Mary, who was a spendthrift, retorted by enforcing the separation agreement John had broken. She then encouraged her creditors to pursue John with lawsuits for the payment of her debts as per the agreement.

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In the ecclesiastical courts, Mary unsuccessfully sued John for cruelty, failing to meet the very high required threshold, whilst John unsuccessfully sued Mary for adultery with the case collapsing as it emerged that John had bribed a witness. John, however, was awarded £1,000 (around £172,000) in damages against Sir Robert Jason and in 1737 he succeeded in having Mary sent to prison for conspiring to accuse him of attempted murder for one year, a period of time that was extended when Mary was confined in a sponging-house, where defaulting debtors were held so that they could arrange their affairs with their creditors. Whilst she was there, she continued deliberately racking up more debts.

John then failed to obtain a divorce from parliament, the only method available back then. This would have relieved him of Mary’s debts from the date of her first conviction for adultery in 1730. Nine years later, however, they remained married, ruinously in debt and with a legal bill of around £14,000 (roughly £2.2 million).

Amongst other things, this story is an example of how parties could use the law without being motivated by any desire for justice, but rather as “a means of waging war, of obtaining revenge, and of finally destroying an enemy”, a point powerfully made in the historian Lawrence Stone’s magisterial retelling of the Dinely’s litigation.

This remains an issue today. Sir Andrew McFarlane, head of family courts in England and Wales, recently reiterated how although “the law provides a structure… to resolve the dispute […] in the end, it is not a legal issue, it’s a relationship problem”.

“My feeling is that about 20% of the families who come to court to have a dispute about their children resolved, would be better served by at least, first of all trying to sort it out themselves in other ways,” Sir Andrew McFarlane told the BBC. So what are the solutions?

The advent of no-fault divorce, where either or both spouses need only file for a divorce rather than being forced to give one of five possible reasons (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation (if both agree), or five years separation (if only one person wants the divorce)), has been broadly welcomed following the widely felt injustice in Owens v Owens.

But some still think that the new 26-week time period starting with a ’20-week reflection period’ on giving notice is too long. More generally, Sir Andrew is concerned about the effect a lengthy process can have on children and is trialling child impact assessments to give parents “a wake up […] as to the impact of what they are doing on their child”. Other ideas include ensuring that the process of separating finances and obtaining consent orders are simple to understand and as uninflammatory as possible.

But there remains a practice (especially for wealthy couples) of warring spouses like John and Mary racking up costs and jurisdiction shopping. England and Wales is known for being more generous jurisdiction for the financially weaker party, whereas Spain and France for example are less so.

As Lawrence Stone points out, divorce has always meant different things for different groups within society and without any “sequence of unambiguous moral improvements which all lead towards the greater happiness of the greatest number”. According to Stone’s analysis of divorce from 1530 to 1987, change seems to come in fits and starts as it faces new fashions, changing moral values and those groups (including lawyers!) with great incentives to preserve the old system.

The likes of John Dineley Goodere are known to blame the system and the greed of the lawyers who run it. Having failed to obtain a divorce from parliament, John had incited a new level of rage from his younger brother Samuel. Upon discovering his father’s will only gave him a life interest in his father’s properties with everything passing to Samuel and his heirs after John’s death, John managed to use his estranged son, who died from ill-health and neglect two days after John had obtained the necessary signature to cut his off brother from the will. In 1741, Samuel retorted by kidnapping and having him killed on a ship in Bristol. Samuel was then found out and hung later that year.

The murder of John Dineley Goodere on HMS Ruby in Bristol — image via the The Law Book Exchange

Whilst taking him to the boat, Samuel said to John of his divorce: “Have you not given the rogues of lawyers money enough already? Do you want to give them more? I will take care that they shall never have any more of you; now I’ll take care of you.”

But it is clear that lawyers were certainly not the main cause of the problem here. This is put beyond doubt by the fact that Samuel had abused the good faith of his Bristol lawyer Jarret Smith by getting him to organise a reconciliatory meeting to put an end to their strained relationship that had also been the subject of litigation. Lawyers were just a means to an end for this feuding family. The same point may be generally observed as a challenge for divorce law reforms. Lawyers should continue to advocate changes and more options and support must be made available, but ultimately it is up to partners and spouses to play along.

Will Holmes is reporter at Legal Cheek and a future trainee solicitor at a magic circle law firm.

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