Sunday, April 28, 2013

Institutional Bridging: How Large Law Firms Engage in Globalization

(thanks to gizmag, proposed bridge over Pearl River)

I've just posted a new paper to SSRN titled "Institutional Bridging: How Large Law Firms Engage in Globalization". It's for a symposium put together by the Boston College Law Review and the Boston College International & Comparative Law Review on Filling Power Vacuums in the New Global Legal Order.

The abstract reads: This article introduces the "Born Global" concept into the discussion of law firms and lawyers. Born Global firms are companies that globalize at an accelerated rate. This article illustrates that English and American law firms are the precursors to Born Global companies and highlights how the common law has facilitated this process. It also demonstrates, through modern case studies, how lawyers and the common law continue to have a globalizing effect in the business world. Last, the article argues that the disparity between UK and US law firms created by the the UK Legal Services Act 2007 may create an opportunity for the UK law firms to truly break out ahead of their US counterparts.

(PS. my favourite bridge is the Ponte Vecchio....

(thanks to


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Longest Taxi Ride in History!

(London-Sydney by Black Cab, thanks to

I've finally written my response to the responses to the Flood-Hviid report on the Cab Rank Rule of the Bar Council by Sir Sydney Kentridge QC and the Bar Standards Board by Michael McLaren QC, Craig Ulyatt and Christopher Knowles. (Sorry for that long sentence but you should see their responses!) I had to fit this in between visits to Boston and Miami.

I hope to publish it soon. But I will point out a few things. Our report was 46 pages long, which included a fair chunk of theory, a comprehensive literature review, and the results of fieldwork. Kentridge came in at concise 30 pages in his response. Most of what he has to say is based on assertion and his beliefs. There was no new evidence, only a reiteration of the standard supporting case for the cab rank rule.

The McLaren, Ulyatt, Knowles response for the BSB astonished us when it landed in our mailboxes at nearly twice the length of our original report--87 pages! This is the longest peer review in history. Given our report cost around £21,000, I wonder what theirs must have cost? They gave their time free apparently, so they subsidized their regulator.

Their report--"A fresh view"--gives us some interesting information about the cab rank rule from around the world but, again, reiterates the same old views. So hardly fresh--over ripe perhaps? There's no evidence to support any of their claims, other than statements confirming their rectitude. It's all rather defensive on their part.

What is omitted from these responses is any analysis or critique about the Bar's methods for avoiding the cab rank rule in relation to direct access clients or why it doesn't apply in the case of publicly funded criminal and family cases ("undeemed").

What I would like to do is offer to debate these issues with the Bar whether its the authors of the responses or others. I can't be fairer than that.


This is a natural consequence of Law Without Walls......

(thanks to New Yorker)


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Life With Law

(This is the second event and for more information about the first look here) 

Life With Law: Second in reflective series of events encourages lawyers to change how they think about time 

Lawyers On Demand continues its series of reflective events aimed at ‘the thinking lawyer’ – bypassing the usual professional development themes to explore the real issues that underpin the reality of working in the law today.

Its second event providing inspiration and ideas on working life is being held on 17 April 2013. It focuses on turning lawyers’ usual (rather conflicted) relationship with time on its head and looks at how they can make time work for them.

Whilst the Life With Law events are the brainchild of alternative legal service providers Lawyers On Demand, these events are intended to be a general forum for lawyers to reflect on how they work best, however they choose to practice.

Simon Harper, Co-Founder of Lawyers On Demand, points out that: "From training, lawyers work in an environment where they are required to record their time every six minutes - resulting in a rather unusual take on time management. This free event is for any lawyer who wants to take back time and make it work better for their teams and for themselves."

Who: Guest speakers for this second event include Radio 4 presenter and author of Time Warped Claudia Hammond and BBC columnist, TED speaker, broadcaster and author Tom Chatfield.

What: Life With Law is a series of free talks offering inspiration and ideas for living a good, happy and satisfying life while practising law. The second event, How To Make Time Work For You, includes guest talks on 'Making time in the digital age' and 'How we perceive and control our time'.

When: 6.30pm, Wednesday 17th April 2013

Where: BLP, The Auditorium, Adelaide House, London Bridge, London, EC4R 9HA

Why: Feedback from the successful first event in the series proved that lawyers, though good at helping their clients, aren’t always so good at managing their own lives – or at helping their team to manage theirs. Life With Law provides a forum for lawyers to find inspiration, featuring some of the best speakers to help lawyers reflect and then make their ideas happen. The first event in the series, Finding Your Path & Making Things Happen, attracted over 100 lawyers to hear guest talks on ‘The surprising science of better decision making’ and ‘Discovering the life that you want’. 

In a world where work-life balance has become meaningless, Life With Law is about lawyers finding time to reflect and making mindful choices in their daily working lives. For more information go to or follow @lifewithlaw on Twitter.


Friday, April 05, 2013

Flagging down cabs or Booking a limo? The Australian View

(thanks to paulickreport: note that colours are of Australian horse 'Black Caviar')

For all the furore about the cab rank rule, including Sir Sydney Kentridge's passing reference on "Desert Island Discs", we forget that it isn't always just about obnoxious individuals but often about venal and obnoxious corporations. It's an aspect the Bar prefers to ignore.

The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer held an event on the cab rank rule in February focussing on the role of lawyers and big tobacco. Jonathan Liberman, the director, has written a post on this which is worth reading. His post is here.

This is how it starts:

At every stage, lawyers played an absolutely central role in the creation and perpetuation of the Enterprise and the implementation of its fraudulent schemes. They devised and coordinated both national and international strategy; they directed scientists as to what research they should and should not undertake; they vetted scientific research papers and reports as well as public relations materials to ensure that the interests of the Enterprise would be protected; they identified “friendly” scientific witnesses, subsidized them with grants from the Center for Tobacco Research and the Center for Indoor Air Research, paid them enormous fees, and often hid the relationship between those witnesses and the industry; and they devised and carried out document destruction policies and took shelter behind baseless assertions of the attorney client privilege.
What a sad and disquieting chapter in the history of an honorable and often courageous profession
Over 1 million Australians have died prematurely as a result of tobacco use since 1950. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the annual death toll from tobacco is 6 million, and rising, increasingly concentrated in low- and middle-income countries. It estimates that a staggering 1 billion people could die as a result of tobacco use this century.
As Judge Kessler observed of US tobacco lawyers – observations that resonate globally – lawyers have not played just a bit part in this story. They have not simply provided their services to tobacco companies defending legal challenges relating to past conduct. Lawyers – both in-house and external – have played, and continue to play, a central role in the tobacco industry’s day-to-day production and marketing of its lethal and addictive products. And they have acted, and continue to act, for the tobacco industry in suing (in the tobacco industry’s inimitable litigation-as-warfare style) and threatening to sue governments over interventions that are designed to reduce the death, disease and social costs caused by the industry and its products. For these reasons, the McCabe Centre / Cancer Council Victoria choose not to engage with law firms that choose to act for the tobacco industry.
But the position appears somewhat more complicated with respect to barristers in Australia and other jurisdictions in which the so-called ‘cab rank rule’ operates. Under the cab rank rule, a barrister should not refuse a brief on the basis of the objectionableness of a potential client’s behaviour or character.


Monday, April 01, 2013

New York Begins to Relent on Opposition to UK Liberalization of Legal Market

(thanks to

I'm in the US right now and I have been keeping track of developments in New York on their supposed opposition to nonlawyer ownership of law firms. This is, as you know, to resist the incursion of UK law firms who have converted to Alternative Business Structures and taken external investment.

The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA), which represents the large New York firms, has lobbied hard and long for change. This culminated in the Younger report for the New York State Bar Association. Younger was thorough and took evidence from around the world, but he eventually came down on the opponents side. It appeared to be the end. (The press release is here and the full report here.) I did interview Steve Younger and he appeared to realize the situation couldn't remain the same for long, however much the backwoodsmen desired it.

Despite the gloom, the NYCBA has relentlessly moved on. A combination of Larry Newman of Baker & McKenzie and Anthony Davis of Hinshaw Culbertson have put forward persuasive arguments for advancing beyond the status quo. They have new allies who may be able to break the logjam, the Federal Trade Commission and the WTO. Pressure also has been put on the American Bar Association to support change, which it has been lukewarm about.

It seems that the NYCBA and the New York State Bar Association have worked out a rapprochement to enable the large law firms, but not the small, to take advantage overseas of some of the possibilities open to UK law firms. This carve-out to the rules will give the large law firms the opportunity to compete on equal terms with the biggest foreign law firms.

The devil is in the detail but watch this's coming.....