Chambers goes paperless to save £350,000 a year

St John’s Buildings has implemented technology to go paperless and save up to £350,000 per year.

The barristers chambers, which is understood to be the first to go fully paperless, developed a cloud-based legal document sharing tool with software provider Advanced.

The tool allows users to digitise documents, making them easier to produce and access. Barristers can work collaboratively on them with their clients even when there is no internet connection, while the storage of legal files electronically will enable lawyers and clients to have 24-hour access to their documents.

St John’s Buildings CEO Chris Ronan said: “St John’s Buildings has long been recognised for its innovative approach to the delivery of advocacy services. The decision to introduce electronic document management comes as we seek to modernise the way we work in line with the digital revolution taking place across the legal sector and to dramatically reduce our own environmental footprint.

“The introduction of ‘less-paper’ working gives our barristers, who are traditionally mobile workers, the ability to service clients in a secure and flexible environment, while enhancing the speed and reliability of that service.”


Mexico´s Best News of 2017, The Labor Reform.

As with every transformation, the labor reform of 2017 will come with its fair share of naysayers, but there is no way around it: this radical conversion of the labor justice system is the best thing to happen to Mexico, commerce and business over all.

For reader’s sake a little bit of history must be shared in order to understand why labor disputes in Mexico are not a part of the traditional justice system. Much like in the U.S, per the separation of powers the authority to decide cases and controversies is vested in the Judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court and inferior courts established by the Constitution on both Federal and State levels. For one hundred years all matters including financial, governmental, regulatory or any other associated to the administration of justice has been controlled by this Judicial power, except for one particular area: Labor disputes.

Due to concrete conditions in Mexico back in 1917, derived from years of civil and revolutionary war, the overall distrust of the justice system that was seen as part of the status quo that favored the wealthy elites, and doubtless, many injustices suffered by the en-masse population, there was a necessity to create an alternate three-way system to guarantee justice in regards with labor and employment matters. The concept of this model meant that controversies where to be voiced not before a judge, but through an arbitration board composed of three agents representing a) the employer b) the employee and c) the government (president of the board), which in the end would resolve all disputes over a majority vote through an informal arbitration procedure. Through this innovative system, all prosecutions where not resolved by one judge but by three agents to maintain fairness and objectivity in regards with the working class. The end result was Labor boards that materially administered justice, but were formally placed under the Executive power both at Federal and State levels.

In today’s circumstances labor boards across the country suffer from insufficient funding from governments to be able to guarantee a correct administration of justice and therefore have become fertile grounds for rampant corruption. Low salaries for employees, not enough personnel, enormous amounts of files in progress and miniature budgets to upkeep buildings have the boards in a state of near abandonment. As far as personnel, there is virtually no training and thereafter plenty of uncertainty for employers and employees with substantial or potentially expensive matters tried before the boards. In some critical states like Quintana Roo local governments have used the labor boards to illegitimately organize and implement corrupt schemes to charge employers with ridiculous amounts of money or even in some cases illicitly strip them of property. Over all, the lack of regulation and accountability for board officials and an outdated system with low wages has made firms and counselors innovate in terms of legal prevention as to avoid litigating at all costs to escape pricey legal exposures.

One of the main targets of this reform is to address this concern conclusively by completely removing the three-way representation arbitration system and transforming it into Labor Courts within the Judiciary branch. This includes ofcourse more funding, ( by definition the Executive power had no funding for administering justice) and the same amount of restrictions, liabilities and support than any other court in the Justice system. For many pessimists, this may not be the answer to end with all corruption, (as there are corruption scandals within the judicial system as well) but anyone seeking to legitimately end corruption must be aware that even though this

might not be the final step, it is indeed a much needed first step that must be taken in this endeavor.

In regards with the administrators of justice and people working within the justice system, this will necessarily mean more training, increased liability, better facilities and hopefully an increased sense of pride in the Job. For Labor Judges this will mean social, legal and economic recognition that will also entail increased liability and restrictions when dispensing with impartiality. In elevating the living standard and public standing of employees that will from now on work in labor courts we hope for better human resources, increased competition and legitimacy in all processes.

For the private sector, both employees and employers should benefit from a heightened sense of justice in the system. Employers should consider implementation of due diligences to catch and correct practices or policies that are not in compliance with legal statutes or international compliance whllst an increased set of restrictions should bring about a much-needed amount of scrutiny, but also security and stability when litigating without the usual grind of trying to avoid fraud.

As labor and employment consultants we urge all employers to keep fighting labor injustice “inhouse”, and to envision the management of human resources as a means to avoid controversies and costly litigation. One thing that our current system has taught employers is the value of “prevention”. This crucial part of doing business in Mexico should not be forgotten or overlooked even after this legal reform.

As I said before, there will be a lot of comments surrounding this labor reform but all businesses, foreign investors, and any and all interested parties should not lose sight of one thing: with all the news and political hype surrounding 2017, this is the best thing to happen yet this year.

Juan Jose Diaz Miron S.


A&O creates new client group in management change

Allen & Overy (A&O) has overhauled its management teams, creating its first executive committee and client group.

The changes follow a consultation among the partnership, aimed at creating a more structured approach to management and developing client relationships.

Responding to concerns, A&O has developed a client group that will be structured around industry sectors. These have not yet been finalised by the firm, but are expected to include focuses on energy, financial institutions and life sciences.

Members of the client group have also not yet been confirmed, although it is expected to include a number of senior partners who hold some of the firm’s key client relationships.

The firm is understood to be pushing for a more sector-led approach in the market, but will continue to organise itself through its practices, such as corporate, finance and litigation.

An executive committee has also been established, responsible for developing and implementing the firm’s overall strategy. It will meet for the first time in June and will be co-chaired by senior partner Wim Dejonghe and managing partner Andrew Ballheimer.

There are an additional eight members on A&O’s new executive committee, including banking co-head Philip Bowden, new US senior partner Tim House and co-head of international capital markets Simon Hill.

Globally, members include Belgian-based corporate co-head Dirk Meeus, United Arab Emirates partner Ian Ingram-Johnson, German partner Astrid Krueger and Hong Kong managing partner Vicki Liu. Barbara Stettner completes the line-up and leads A&O’s Washington DC office.

A&O previously had just a board in charge of strategy, but the board will now be in charge of reviewing and approving the direction put forward by the executive committee.

A&O’s board consists of eight partners, with just Ballheimer and Dejonghe sitting on both the board and executive committee.

The changes follow a number of other shake-ups in the firm following the senior partner and managing partner elections last year.


Linklaters recruits from Ropes to boost restructuring team

Linklaters is set to grow its restructuring team with the hire of Ropes & Gray partner James Douglas.

Douglas is a member of the US firm’s special situations group in London, where he acts for clients including KKR Credit, Hutchinson Investors and TPG Special Situation Partners. moving to the city from New Zealand firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts.

He joined Ropes’ partnership in 2010, after moving to the city from New Zealand firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts.

Ropes’ special situations group is one of the largest in the firm’s London office, with nine partners listed as specialising in restructuring matters.

These include the group’s co-head Peter Baldwin, along with a number of other partners who also work in the firm’s private equity and finance groups.

Douglas’ appointment follows a series of exits from Linklaters’ restructuring team – predominantly to Sidley Austin.


Firms still need the Euro vision

Loath as one is to shoehorn last June’s referendum vote into everything, the prospect of a hard Brexit is suddenly concentrating the minds of UK law firms.

We’re not going to see the wholesale shift of gravity to Frankfurt and Paris, but getting a balanced European offering that is sufficiently responsive to new trade structures has become a major headache for law firms.

For the moment, they’re still investing. Research for The Lawyer European 100 report – out this week – underlines how much Continental Europe is still a major draw for UK and US firms alike. Goodwin picked up much of KWM Paris; DLA Piper is frolicking in Scandinavia, and Germany top of everyone’s shopping list. Yes, it’s a congested market, but it’s a rich one. No wonder the US firms keep coming; Clydes launched there last year and Ince and Pinsents each opened second offices in 2016.

Many of City heavyweights have reversed out of lower-paying jurisdictions. But there is still room for the odd quirk in coverage. Linklaters is in Lisbon; Clifford Chance is still in Prague; A&O is in Bratislava. (I mourn the days when A&O had an outpost in Albania. Heady times.)

In their last promotions rounds, the largest 10 international firms in Europe collectively made up 125 new partners – an increase from 104 the previous year. But while many firms with a mature presence in key jurisdictions – either through merger or long-ago launches – are growing their talent organically, the lateral market is still febrile. Poaching the right partner is still the preferred way to do business fast.

This week we’re focusing on the key trends on the Continent as part of our European 100 2017 launch. Over this week we’ll be highlighting the firms you need to know about, their talent strategies, and their respective positioning to help you get a sense of activities across different jurisdictions. If you’re in the market for recruitment on the Continent, you’d better read it.


New York City

Quinn hires Kirkland partner to bolster litigation in NYC

Quinn Emanuel has hired former Kirkland & Ellis partner and patent litigation lawyer Steven Cherny to boost its New York office.

At Kirkland, Cherny focused on patent litigation in Federal Courts and the United States International Trade Commission.

He has tried high profile patent cases involving IP in industries ranging from telecommunications, electronics and pharmaceuticals to financial and business methods and consumer products.

Quinn managing partner John Quinn said: “The firm’s IP litigation practice is booming. Adding a widely acknowledged superstar in that space is a unique opportunity.  We expect Steve will spearhead the firm’s growth in the medical device and telecom areas in particular.”

Cherny said: “Quinn Emanuel’s firmwide focus on high stakes patent disputes and in particular the willingness and experience trying cases is like coming home to me.”



Olswang Munich partners opt against CMS merger

Olswang’s former intellectual (IP) litigation partner Thomas Lynker is among a group of lawyers to break away from the firm following its merger with CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabarro on 1 May to launch his own boutique in Munich.

The new firm, Taliens, has offices in Munich and Paris and will specialise in IP, tech and media, continuing the legacy of Olswang.

Lynker is joined in Munich by former Olswang counsel Monika Stoehr. Olwang partner Clara Steinitz and Jean-Frederic Gaultier will practice from the Paris office. The new firm will also have a presence in Spain through its association with Madrid-based firm Baylos.

The boutique’s key clients include Chinese conglomerates TCL and ZTE.

Lynker is one of a string of partner exits from the firm ahead of the merger on 1 May. He terminated his contract with Olswang Germany on 28 April, along with Paul Stevens, the former executive partner of CMS. On 30 April, Tobias Reker, Robert John Stephen, Robert Alan Heym and Uli Foerstl terminated their contracts with Olswang, with the latter joining IP law firm D Young & Co in Munich and Heym joining CMS.

It is thought that CMS will retain Reker, two associates and two patent engineers from Olswang’s Munich patent prosecution team. They will join the UK’s LLP instead of CMS Hasche Sigle Germany branch and will remain based in the Munich office until they are relocated to an office in the European Patent Office.

The news of the launch of Taliens ends speculation as to the fate of Olswang’s five-partner strong Munich base. Fieldfisher and Cooley were tipped to take over the Munich office but the talks fell flat.

In March, Dentons hired a five-lawyer patents team from Olswang ahead of the merger. The team is led by partner Justin Hill, whose move was announced at the end of last year. He had co-chaired Olswang’s patent prosecution practice in London.

CMS declined to comment.

New York City

Linklaters London corporate partner to lead global US practice

Linklaters has appointed corporate partner Tom Shropshire as head of its global US practice following the retirement of US head Scott Bowie halfway into his four-year mandate.

New York City

Bowie, who joined the firm from Latham & Watkins in 2005, had headed up the firm’s US operations since 2015 in the newly-created role, which was launched in a bid to take the current shared responsibility for the US practice from its partners.

In his new role, Shropshire will be responsible for further developing the firm’s global US practice and will split his time between New York and London. He will continue to advise clients and retain his current client work, in addition to his leadership role.

Shropshire joined as an associate at Linklaters in 1998 and was made a partner in 2006.

Linklaters managing partner Gideon Moore said: “I would like to thank Scott for the pivotal role he has played in building the leading reputation of not only our global US practice, but also our global IMG Practice.

“I am delighted to have Tom step into this role. He is ideally placed to take our global US practice forward.”

Linklaters has seen several exits in the last few months from its US base, including former US banking head Jeff Norton to Dechert and finance partner Sabrina Silver to White & Case.’



Dentons to enter strategic alliance with local firm in Brazil

Dentons partners are set to vote on a proposed alliance with independent Brazilian firm Vella Pugliese Buosi Guidoni (VPBG), the fourth of its kind for the firm in the Americas in 12 months.


Should both firms’ partners vote in favour of the tie-up over the next few weeks, VPBG’s integration will go ahead later this year.

Through VPBG, Dentons will add 13 partners and 116 fee earners based in offices in São Paulo and Brasília. The firm focuses on competition and cntitrust; corporate and M&A; dispute resolution and litigation; labour; international trade and commodity finance; tax; public and administrative law; real estate; and environmental law.

“We are growing faster in Latin America—and with truly high quality firms—in a way that no one has ever done before,” said Dentons global CEO Elliott Portnoy said. “The speed and quality of our growth in this region are unprecedented.”

Earlier this year, the firm opened a second office in Mexico through a local alliance with independent firm Canales Zambrano y Asociados, Cardenas & Cardenas in Colombia, and entered into negotiations with pan-Central American firm Muñoz Global.

In Europe, Dentons opened its third German office in Munich with the hire of three partners from Norton Rose Fulbright, and two offices in Italy, first in Milan and then in Rome following a two-year strategic plan to build a full-service firm in the country.


RPC formalises alliance with HK firm Smyth & Co

Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC) has formally combined with its Hong Kong alliance firm Smyth & Co after four years of association.


This official tie-up will allow RPC to operate as a single entity in the Hong Kong market.

RPC managing partner James Miller said: “We are immensely proud of what we have achieved over a relatively short period of time in Asia, both in Hong Kong and Singapore. Our Hong Kong office has continued to surpass every expectation we’ve set.

“This latest success is a cornerstone for our continued growth and development in the region. We’ve seen a number of great achievements over the last few years and I don’t expect that to slow down any time soon.”

The Hong Kong office has grown substantially since 2012, when the Smyth & Co and RPC association first began in 2012. The office now numbers 70 employees. Smyth & Co was set up originally by Asia senior partner David Smyth following his departure from Clyde & Co in Hong Kong.

Last year, the firm formalised a local alliance by entering into a joint venture with Premier Law. The deal is part of plans to build up banking litigation work in the region and double the size of its Singapore practice.

The firm’s newly elected managing partner James Miller indicated in a recent interview with The Lawyer that RPC would be open to opportunities similar to Singapore, with smaller 3 to 4-partner team hires.