Baker McKenzie Named World’s Best Law Firm Brand

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie has been named as the best law firm brand for the 10th consecutive year by Acritas’ Global Elite Law Firm Brand Index. The Firm once again ranked top for each of the measures that make up the Index – awareness, favorability, consideration for multi-jurisdictional deals and for multi-jurisdictional litigation. Baker McKenzie also once more widened its lead over its nearest competitor, receiving an overall score of 100, which is 57 points ahead of the firm ranked in second place

The ranking is based on interviews with 1,596 senior legal buyers across the world’s largest multinationals with revenues in excess of $1bn.

Milton Cheng, Global Chair of Baker McKenzie, said, “Market disruption is an accepted reality for business, as new competition and technologies drive the pace of change faster than ever before. Our clients want lawyers who are prepared to lead, differentiate and adapt in a constantly changing world.

“We are unquestionably the leading cross-border law firm that large, global clients trust for complex transactional and other matters involving multiple jurisdictions. That’s why we are top of mind across so many countries and areas of law. Topping this ranking for the tenth consecutive year underlines that.”

Lisa Hart Shepherd, vice president of Research and Advisory Services at Thomson Reuters, commented: “For firms, choosing an overarching focus and sticking with it is essential to developing a differentiated brand. Baker McKenzie has shown that commitment to a long-term strategy that is in line with evolving client needs will deliver financial success. This strategic focus on global reach makes for a clear purpose that its people can get behind and that its clients can easily understand.“

Baker McKenzie Announces Global Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets

Today Baker McKenzie announces a plan to significantly reduce its global carbon emissions over the next decade.  The reductions are part of the Firm’s wider sustainability strategy and support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Firm commits:

  • To reduce its emissions from energy consumption* by 92% by 2030 (from a 2019 baseline)
  • To develop a strategy and target by 2021 to lower emissions from its business air travel; and
  • To report its emissions with the Carbon Disclosure Project starting in 2020.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity,” says Global Executive Committee member Ai Ai Wong who is also Chair of the Firm’s Asia Pacific Region and the Global Environmental Committee. “Limiting warming requires everyone – including Baker McKenzie — to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, without delay. We are setting targets to drive better environmental performance across our global operations, and to clearly demonstrate our commitment.”

“These targets are part of the Firm’s continuing effort to integrate sustainability meaningfully into our strategy and operations,” added Christie Constantine, Baker McKenzie’s Global Director of Sustainability.

“Climate change is a priority and a concern for many people at our Firm, as well as for our clients and the communities where we do business.  Our various stakeholders want to know that we are part of the solution.” Constantine, who has been with Baker McKenzie since 2013, was appointed to the newly created Global Director of Sustainability role earlier this year, reflecting the Firm’s commitment to sustainability.

Last year, the Firm launched a refreshed global sustainability strategy, centered on the environmental, economic, social and governance issues most material to the Firm as identified by more than 1400 stakeholders. Additionally, Baker McKenzie has prioritized a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals linked to these issues which it will focus on over the next ten years. This includes Goal 7 (clean and affordable energy); Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production); and Goal 13 (climate action).

The Firm plans to lower its energy consumption through improvements in the energy efficiency of its offices (including a shift to green buildings over time), as well as via procurement of renewable energy credits.

With respect to business air travel, which is the Firm’s biggest emissions source, in addition to lessening non essential travel, Baker McKenzie will assess investments in enhanced video conferencing technology and redesign key meetings and events to make virtual attendance viable. The Firm currently offsets all business air travel associated with its annual and regional partners meetings, using offsets that provide social benefits in addition to carbon abatement, such as reducing poverty, improving health, empowering women, job creation, or other benefits to local communities.

The new targets build on successive efforts by the Firm to make its operations more environmentally sustainable in recent years. In 2017, Baker McKenzie launched B-Green, a program designed to help its offices around the world to “green” their operations. The program provides a road map for each office to follow, along with tools and guidance to help them measure, evaluate and incrementally improve their environmental performance.

The Firm also strives to contribute to environmental sustainability through strategic partnerships (for example, it was the first law firm to join both the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition);  pro bono and community service initiatives; and through the work of its award winning Climate, Environment and Energy practice groups.

* This covers Baker McKenzie’s “scope 1 and scope 2” emissions.  The Green House Gas (GHG) Protocol (the international standard for corporate emissions accounting and reporting which Baker has followed in its own emissions tracking and calculations) classifies emissions by so-called scopes, with scope 1 emissions being direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and scope 2 emissions being indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.

White & Case Advises on Aeroflot’s US$1 Billion Capital Increase

Global law firm White & Case LLP has acted as the sole international legal adviser on the more than US$1 billion equity fundraise by PJSC Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline group.

“The White & Case team, acting as sole international legal counsel, has successfully advised on this strategically important transaction for Aeroflot,” said White & Case partner Darina Lozovsky, who co-led the Firm’s deal team. “It is the largest capital increase by a company listed on the Moscow Exchange since 2013.

VTB Capital acted as the sole global coordinator and bookrunner on the offering. The fundraise is part of the Aeroflot’s  financial strategy of strengthening its equity and liquidity position in context of the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The White & Case team that advised on the transaction was led by partner Darina Lozovsky (Moscow & London) and local partner Dmitry Lapshin (Moscow), and included partner Inigo Esteve (London) and associates Renat Akhmetzyanov, Anastasia Sheyndlina (both Moscow) and Samuel Curme (London).

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Hogan Lovells to Cut 43 Business Services Roles in Mexico and US

Hogan Lovells is shedding 43 staff roles in the United States and Mexico as part of a business services restructuring.

The cuts, announced Friday, amount to 4% of the firms business services workforce in the Americas. The firm’s restructuring will also include a voluntary redundancy program for business services and secretarial staff in the U.K.

Linklaters and Clifford Chance End COVID-19 Salary Freezes

Linklaters has ended its COVID-19 salary freeze and Clifford Chance is set to follow suit next month, in the latest sign of an easing of pandemic measures across the industry.

Reed Smith Launches Global Racial Equality Task Force

Reed Smith has become the latest major law firm to launch a global racial equality task force, the firm announced in a statement.

Comprising a 36-member committee, the new racial equality task force comes in response to “recent global events that have brought to the fore generations of systemic racial injustice against Black people and other ethnic minorities,” the firm said.

As part of the move, the firm intends to set improvement measures in the hiring, retention and promotion of Black and other ethnic minority lawyers and staff working at the firm.

Global managing partner Sandy Thomas will chair the task force, which also comprises the firm’s seven-member senior management team, as well as other lawyers and professional staff, according to the statement.

The task force will carry out the firm’s newly-instated racial equality action plan (REAP) which aims to “re-imagine organisational business practices and habits to promote racial equity.”

The REAP is designed also to help the firm improve fairness and well-being for Black people and other ethnic minorities working at the firm, and to solicit ideas on how to uphold racial equity; pursue pro bono engagements “with the specific goal of advancing a more equitable society”, and to carry out work in criminal justice reform and voting rights.

Thomas said in a statement: “Striving toward racial equity is critically important as we move our communities forward. As stewards of the law, it is our responsibility to ensure that the credo of ‘equal justice for all’ is pursued and applied every day, to help provide a voice to all people.

“Our commitment is inspired by people from across the firm and is led from the top. We are proud to declare who we are and what we stand for – and on an issue of such importance, we do so unequivocally. While we appreciate that there are limits to the contribution one law firm can make, we are determined to realize change wherever possible.”

The move follows that of Baker McKenzie, which established a global race and ethnicity task force in July. Allen & Overy also implemented new ethnicity targets and a race ‘stay gap’ that same month.

Andersen Global Enters Liberian and Gambian Markets

Andersen Global has signed two new collaboration deals in Africa, with an accounting firm and a law firm in Liberia and Gambia respectively.

This raises the organisation’s presence in Africa to 40 countries, and it is expecting to sign five more such deals by October.

Andersen CEO and global chairman Mark Vorsatz said: ”Our expansion in Africa remains a key priority for our organization.”

In Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast, Andersen has signed a collaboration agreement with accounting firm BICON Inc.

Founded in 2015, BICON is led by managing partner Zinnah Sackie and has a team of more than 30 professionals of which some are on loan to and currently serving in key government positions.

The Monrovia-based firm provides accounting services to clients in various industries, including merchandising, manufacturing, mining and agriculture.

Sackie said of the agreement: “The next logical step in our firm’s journey of continued growth is our collaboration with Andersen Global.”

In Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for its western coast side, Andersen has signed a collaboration deal with law firm Fajara Chambers.

The 25-year-old firm, led by managing partners Ann Rivington and Malick M’bai, has a staff of 11 professionals and competences in litigation, general business law, telecommunications, real estate, banking and tourism.

Malick said the collaboration with Andersen reflects the firm’s commitment to serving clients “not only in the West African sub-region but throughout the international business community.”

Earlier this month, Andersen Global added new tie-ups in Chad and Eswatini (Swaziland).

Law Firms Get Creative on London Rent Arrangements

Law firms across London are negotiating with their landlords about ways to ease the rent burden they face during the lockdown, according to several real estate agents.

(COVID-19): Legal Aspects to be Considered by Companies

An overview of the events of the last few weeks shows the growing social and economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on a global scale, including in the business and companies’ fields. To this end, we consider appropriate to give some guidelines that companies should take into account in order to minimize the possible consequences of the health crisis of COVID-19. In this sense, it is recommended that, with the appropriate advice, the companies carry out an individualized study of their relationships with third parties, paying special attention to the following areas:

  • Contracts signed with suppliers or customers.

The concept of force majeure may be the cause and justification for the frustration of a contract, which will imply its future non-fulfilment, thus causing damages that may be compensated in the event that such force majeure is not appreciated. The application of this concept must be evaluated in accordance with the legislation and circumstances applicable to each contract, as it is an undetermined legal concept. However, in order to assess force majeure, the company must, in any case, have exhausted all the means at its disposal to fulfil the obligations entered into.

  • Insurance policies. Review of the scope of coverage contracted.
  • Potential claims for liability of the Public Administration for actions or omissions related to this situation that cause damage that the company does not have a legal duty to bear.
  • Review of the obligations that determine health regulations, mainly with regard to information duties and the adoption of preventive or precautionary measures agreed by the competent authorities.
  • In the case of litigious conflicts, anticipate and avoid own acts that weaken the position of the company resulting from decisions in other areas of the company.
  • To comply with the duty of diligence for the adoption of measures for due direction and control, which could lead to civil and even criminal liability.
  • In the labour environment, companies should pay attention to inter alia to:
    • The need to proceed to articulate measures for the suspension of employment contracts.
    • The consideration as a situation of Temporary Incapacity derived from common illness of the absences of the employees as a consequence of obligatory quarantines imposed by the health authority.
    • Review of the application of regulations on the safety and health of workers.
    • Creation of protocols for remote work of its employees and the use of electronic and computer means made available.
    • Special compliance with data protection regulations in relation to particularly sensitive information, such as employee’s medical and health data.

In addition, the directors and officers of the companies must review their action protocols, good governance practices and compliance processes to determine and confirm their correct monitoring and implementation, the need to adopt, where appropriate, new procedures and protocols and, in short, the adequate and correct fulfilment of due diligence obligations to avoid possible liability for action or omission.

UK’s approach to protecting and enforcing design rights

Global Head of IP David Stone speaks to Lexology Learn and discusses why protecting and enforcing design rights in the UK is becoming a lot more attractive, as well as new measures being introduced by the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. He also looks at where there is room for improvement in the English courts.