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.“

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.

Megren Al-Shaalan Joins White & Case as a Partner

Global law firm White & Case LLP has boosted its Saudi practice capabilities with the addition of Megren Al-Shaalan as a partner.

“White & Case has long had a strong Saudi practice, and Megren’s arrival significantly enhances our capabilities in the Kingdom,” said White & Case partner Doug Peel, Head of the Middle East. “Megren has been deeply involved in the design and delivery of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision initiatives, which are key to the Kingdom’s future development and transformation. His knowledge and experience will be a major asset to the Firm as we continue our work in the Kingdom.”

Al-Shaalan arrives from the Saudi Royal Court, where he was a Senior Legal Advisor. He advised a number of government offices and entities on prominent projects including NEOM, the Red Sea Project and Qiddiya, helping structure their legal frameworks and establish their legal departments. Al-Shaalan also provided legal counsel on the establishment of a number of other government entities and projects. He has significant experience in public policy and a variety of areas of law, including regulatory, governance, corporate transactions, finance and litigation.

Oliver Brettle, a member of White & Case’s global Executive Committee, said: “Investment in our Saudi practice is part of our strategic growth ambitions and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, is an important market for the Firm. The arrival of Megren, with his experience and strong reputation in Saudi Arabia, will not only add to our corporate capabilities in the Kingdom, but will support the further growth and development of our other key practices and industry groups there.”

White & Case practices in Saudi Arabia in cooperation with the Law Office of Megren M. Al-Shaalan.

Baker McKenzie Announces Record Global Revenues of $2.92 Billion

  • Revenues up 4.4% with growth in all regions

  • PPP up 3%

  • Major program to drive global digitization and optimal client service delivery

  • Leading the sector for our people through Diversity & Inclusion

Baker McKenzie, the leading global law firm, has announced record revenues for the fiscal year ended 30 June 2019 (FY19) of $2.92 billion. In terms of constant currency, Baker McKenzie’s revenues were up 4.4% compared to the previous year. In US dollar terms, the Firm’s reporting currency, this translates into growth of 1.2%, after the effect of adverse currency exchange.

Baker McKenzie remains the most geographically diverse global law firm and all of our regions recorded growth as follows: EMEA +5.2%, AP +2.1%, LA +9.0% and NA +4.0%

All of our key financial metrics improved over last year: revenue growth, net income, profit margin, Profits per Partner (PPP), Revenue per Partner and Profits per Lawyer. We are especially pleased to accomplish this amid a market with flat demand. PPP was up by 3% to $1.48 million in US dollars. Overall net income or profit rose by 2% to $1 billion. Over the last decade the Firm has grown by 40% in terms of revenue and 50% in terms of PPP, outperforming most of our competitors.

Among our standout markets, all with significant double-digit growth, include Bogota, Buenos Aires, London, Prague, Turkey and Warsaw.

Baker McKenzie Acting Chair Jaime Trujillo says, “Recording 4.4 percent growth in a market as challenging as this while maintaining our commitment to all of our offices and our full service offering is a good result. The investments the Firm continues to make in legal services, the centers of excellence we have opened in lower-cost locations, and more effective partnering with clients, supported by long-term investments in industry, practice and client programs have enabled us to show profitable growth.

“This is despite the distinct geopolitical head winds throughout the second half of the year, which prompted our clients to cancel or postpone projects. We are also one of the most geographically diverse professional services firms in the world, both one of our key strengths, and at times a challenge in markets impacted when the US dollar is so strong, as it was this past year.”

HONG KONG HK

Baker McKenzie Elects Milton Cheng as Next Chair

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie is proud to announce that following a vote of its partnership, Milton Cheng has been elected as the next Chair of the Firm.

Based in Hong Kong, Milton is the Managing Partner of the Hong Kong office and concurrently the Chief Executive overseeing Baker McKenzie’s offices and businesses across eight countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Milton has considerable experience in mergers and acquisitions, real estate investment trusts, financial services regulation, corporate finance and corporate restructurings. He regularly advises clients — including REIT and other asset managers, financial institutions, multinationals and Hong Kong-listed groups — on a wide range of acquisition, REIT, restructuring, regulatory and corporate finance matters.

A graduate of King’s College London, Milton became a partner of Baker McKenzie in 1999 and is admitted to practice in Hong Kong and in England & Wales. He is the Firm’s first Asian Chair.

Milton Cheng, Chair-elect of Baker McKenzie said, “I am truly honored by the trust my fellow partners have placed in me. I look forward to working with all of them and my colleagues across the world to build on the great work of my predecessors to make Baker McKenzie the global law firm of choice.”

Milton, who will serve in the role for four years, takes up the position with effect from October 17, 2019 succeeding Jaime Trujillo, who has been Acting Global Chair since October 2018.

Jaime said, “We had a group of outstanding candidates for our next Chair and the partners had a difficult decision to make. In choosing Milton we have someone who can take this great Firm to the next level. I offer him my sincerest congratulations.”

A&O opens new Legal Services Centre in Johannesburg

Allen & Overy has announced that a new Legal Services Centre (LSC) will open in Johannesburg in the first half of 2020 as part of its expansion plans

Johannesburg city skyline

The LSC, launched in 2012, has quickly built a reputation for cost-effectively and efficiently resourcing transactions while guaranteeing the standard that clients expect from A&O. The team – comprising legal professionals, associate solicitors and science analysts – works alongside offices across the A&O network on a wide range of document-based matters, including due diligence, litigation reviews, drafting, negotiating and research tasks. The focus is on quality, supported by project management and legal technology. The LSC is part of Allen & Overy’s broader Advanced Delivery and Solutions (AD&S) offering, which includes Fuse, A&O Consulting, Peerpoint and A&O’s legal tech solutions.

Angela Clist, Head of LSC, said: “Johannesburg makes an ideal location for our new centre as it has a strong base of legal experts. Our Johannesburg office has been open for five years now, and we look forward to growing the LSC alongside the current team.

“All the work performed in the new centre will serve our clients directly as well as even more practice groups and offices across our global network. Having worked with over 450 partners across the firm and with a wide range of teams from banking regulation to US capital markets, the experience within the LSC is unrivalled.”

Andrew Trahair, Head of Advanced Delivery & Solutions, added: “This is an important step forward for our AD&S businesses. The LSC is an essential resource for A&O as we take on more larger and more complex projects for our clients. The team will support both our traditional practice groups and our AD&S businesses, for example the Markets Innovation Group and A&O Consulting.”

For further information, please contact Rajiv Pattni, Rajiv.Pattni@allenovery.com, on +44 (0)20 3088 1237.