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Blog Name: Matthew's blog

Exclusive: mass departures at FFW
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2
09 April 2014
A number of lawyers from FFW's privacy team and one of the firm's top tech partners have resigned.

Eduardo Ustaran, the head of FFW's privacy department, announced last October that he was leaving for Hogan Lovells. FFW, in a fit of pique, held him to an 18 month notice period. Because a similar strategy worked so, so well for Mark Abell...

And now four of his colleagues have apparently jumped ship too.

To cap it all, Stewart Room, one of FFW's top technology partners, has also just announced that he's leaving.

    FFW this week. How it might look.

A spokesman for the firm confirmed that Room was off to PwC, and that there had been a number of junior departures from the privacy team.

More to follow on Friday.


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Exclusive: Leaked screenplay for new series of Silk!
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8
09 April 2014
A thousand thanks to the reader who sent in the following sneak peek of the next series of Silk. He is wasted as a lawyer.

Episode 1

Clive Reader has now been Head of Chambers for six months and Shoe Lane has become a prosecuting set. Martha is absent.  The clerks room is now known as the “Practice Hub”, the clerks as “Case engineers”, and all is overseen by Harriet who has been appointed “Senior Chief Facilitator”. “Briefs” are no longer referred to as such, instead the CPS deliver “Victim protection and retributive justice assignments”.

The West Ham pictures have gone and instead there are two very large pictures, one of Clive looking very handsome and masterful and another with a slogan in big letters: “Vive la prosecution”. We learn, from a whispered conversation between John, Jake and Bethany that Billy only works one day a week now because it is all he can manage but they think it is “all this” which is killing him, not his cancer.

Clive is seen being visited in his room by a number of attractive female solicitors from the CPS who deliver instructions, flirt and leave saying they will see him later. A montage of shots follows revealing his life to consist of glamorous and well-paid prosecutions by day and dinner, parties and sex with his instructing solicitors by night.

The montage includes courtroom shots with Clive prosecuting and the bent policeman from series 3 saying things like “We found the drugs in his van”, “His fingerprints were all over the gun” and “He’s as guilty as the day is long”, a succession of hapless defence Counsel doing a very poor job, and various defendants being led from the dock looking upset/angry/bewildered as the judge says “Take him down” and the bent copper and Clive smiling with satisfaction.

Clearly Clive has gone over to the dark side and justice is not being done.

Billy is shown shaking his head with sadness, looking at a framed picture of Martha and asking the other clerks if there is any news of her and they just shake their heads and look sympathetic.

This is then contrasted with a sequence showing other members of Chambers to be doing nothing but crappy, low-level prosecutions and being very unhappy about it.

The only exception to this is Amy – we see her being utterly hopeless in case after case but somehow all end with a shot of each jury foreman saying “Guilty”. This results in her in getting ever more important and well-paid briefs, being generally feted (including appearing in the Times as “Lawyer of the Week” and later having her own weekly column in the same newspaper).

CW lurches around Chambers drinking, slurring and swearing (she doesn’t try to hide it and just doesn’t care any more) and fomenting revolution.

Episode 2

There is still no sign of Martha. Clive has to deal with complaints from a number of members of Chambers about the way he is running things. He calls a meeting of all members and staff (including Billy) to enable matters to be aired and opens by saying his door is always open and people should feel free to raise any concerns with him. A number of people do and are promptly and harshly rebuked. Whilst explaining “again for the benefit of people who still don’t get it” why Shoe Lane had to become a prosecution set he is interrupted by Jake who accuses him of having blood on his hands because his changes are killing Billy. Clive tries to explain that it is his cancer that is killing him but at that point Billy collapses.

Billy knows this is the end and makes a deathbed speech about the Bar, history, tradition etc. and implores Clive to make Shoe Lane a defence set again and restore its former glory. However, just as this is drawing to an end he is suddenly and dramatically interrupted by MARTHA'S RETURN. She tells everyone that she has retrained as an oncologist and surgeon and specialises in cases of disadvantaged people who have been unfairly diagnosed with cancer. She picks up Billy and carries him into a side room and begins to treat him. In a short sequence of shots which obviously last no more than about three days Billy has been completely cured by her.

Being back in Chambers has reawakened Martha’s passion for being a barrister and the episode ends with her deciding to combine her legal and medical practice. Together with Billy she sets up a combined Chambers and clinic next door to Shoe Lane. It is called simply "Deliverance" and its motto is “Doing Justice, Curing Cancer”. The receptionist directs those visiting accordingly: “Fitted up by the police? To the left and into the clerks room”, “Malignant tumour? To the right and take a seat in the waiting room” etc.

    Fighting cancer. And injustice.

Martha reveals to CW the secret of her disappearance at the end of the last series: she had dived in the river to rescue Mickey Joy after he was coshed and pushed in by underworld gangsters. She pulled him out, gave him mouth to mouth and revived him and he is now working for FIFA.

Episode 3

A state of civil war exists between Shoe Lane and Deliverance.  Martha has cured CW of her dipsomania (“treatment of alcoholics was one of the optional subjects I took during my medical training”) and together with Billy as Senior Clerk, they are running Deliverance. They are pitted against Clive, Amy and Harriet at Shoe Lane.

Shoe Lane scores an early victory when Amy becomes the latest character to take silk, something made possible by the massively truncated time periods in which everything happens in this series and the completely haphazard nature of the selection process. Deliverance is also shown to be struggling as Martha faces a series of dilemmas about how to balance her time between defending the innocent from injustice and curing the innocent of cancer.

Pupillage recruitment is a flashpoint with both sets shown interviewing the same candidate, but they spend less time interviewing her and more time trying to persuade her how cool and progressive they are. We switch between shots showing increasingly extravagant claims being made by both sets, with the pupil at first looking impressed but then visibly put off as the list goes on:

- “We have a chill out room
- “We encourage cycling and have a bike shed
- “All our computers and phones are from Apple
- “We hold one event for charity every month
- “We hold one event for charity every week
- “We provide free advice to victims of crime
- “We volunteer to help prisoners on death row overseas
- “We are opening a branch of Chambers in Afghanistan to provide advice on schemes of restorative justice
- “All of our pupils go on secondment to a leper colony in East Timor to advise them on their human rights”.

The interview ends with both panels asking if the candidate has any questions. She asks the same question of both: “My parents have no money and I have huge debts from university and Bar School – you place a lot of emphasis on voluntary work but how much will I get paid during my pupillage?” Clive answers: “Er, nothing.” Martha: “Nothing, sorry.

The episode ends with Martha and Clive in a café like De Niro and Pacino in Heat.

Clive: What’s become of us Martha? What happened to me and you? When you disappeared, I thought I’d never see you again.
Martha: Don't keep anything in your life you're not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.
Clive: Er, well I don’t. I just shag them and move on.

Episode 4

A shocking discovery is made in the Temple when workmen laying a water main outside the Temple Church discover what appear to be human remains.  Billy jokes to Martha that it could be the remains of a Knight Templar who, so the legend goes, brought the Holy Grail back to England but that when he reached the church one of its walls mysteriously collapsed, burying him but his body and the grail which then could never be found.

Martha thinks no more of it until a few days later when she is visited by a client who claims that he is a descendant of the knight and the bones should be buried in Glastonbury, which was the Isle of Avalon in the Arthurian legend and not in the Temple Church as the government has decided. Martha agrees to represent the client and later discovers that Clive is representing the government.

Subsequently CW is instructed on behalf of workmen who were laying the water main, who are claiming ownership of the bones and Amy is instructed on behalf of the Temple Church.

The case generates enormous press interest and the civil war between the two sets continue as they vie furiously to maximise the publicity they can get from it.

The hearing is one of the first to be televised under a pilot scheme allowing cameras into court – the case is being watched around the world.

Concerns about the effect on the dignity of the court process appear to be confirmed as the coverage begins and has a voiceover by that bloke from Big Brother. “Day 1 in Court 4” he begins, “and the judges are in the courtroom.”

However, shortly after beginning, the case is dramatically halted when new evidence is discovered mid-hearing and brought into court showing that the bones are not human after all. Just as everyone is leaving court, there is another even more dramatic development as MICKEY JOY REAPPEARS. He says he knows where all the bodies are buried and to whom they belong and reveals that the bones are in fact those of Shergar. Uproar in court.

The publicity leads to a great coup for Deliverance Chambers as they reach a deal with the BBC to allow a documentary crew to film life in Deliverance Chambers. Clive, Amy and Harriet are furious. However, there is soon trouble as Martha makes various comments on camera about the effect government cuts are having on her ability to defend the poor and dispossessed and cure innocent people of cancer. This leads to complaints from government ministers and MPs about BBC bias. Martha responds that these critics are blurring the line between fiction and reality.  At this juncture we can all see that she has a point.  It no longer being possible to disentangle the two, the documentary is cancelled and the episode and series ends showing stage hands dismantling the sets at Shoe Lane and Deliverance Chambers and the cast going to the pub where they meet up with Harry and Ros from Spooks, Judge John Deed and Kavanagh QC.



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Humiliated Cabinet Minister is married to Bevan Brittan partner
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-2
03 April 2014
Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, has just been ordered by the Commons Committee on Standards to repay £5,800 of expenses and apologise to the House.

The Committee criticised her for the "legalistic" manner in which she argued her case. Although this possibly shouldn't have come as a surprise, given that her husband is a lawyer. Iain Miller is a partner at Bevan Brittan, Head of the London Commercial Litigation Group, one of the principal advisors to the SRA. And a specialist in matters of misconduct.

    Maria Miller apologising unreservedly today

Funny old world.


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Exclusive: Irwin Mitchell's CEO steps down
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0
02 April 2014
John Pickering, Group CEO of Irwin Mitchell, has just announced that he is standing down.

Insiders say that he is to be replaced by Andrew Tucker, who is currently CEO of Personal Legal services at the firm.

    Vale

Apparently Pickering wants to pursue other projects out of the the law, such as adding to his portfolio of non-exec posts.

Read more on Friday.

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Exclusive: Kennedys instructed by Malaysia Airlines
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0
27 March 2014
RollOnFriday can exclusively reveal that Kennedy's has been instructed by Malaysia Airlines and its insurers on the flight MH370 litigation.

A spokeswoman has just confirmed it, but won't comment any further.

Read all about it tomorrow.
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Exclusive: 17 jobs at risk at DAC Beachcroft
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0
27 March 2014
DAC Beachcroft is restructuring its entire Business Development and Communications team in London and Bristol.

Insiders say that 17 roles are at risk of redundancy. The firm has yet to provide a comment - read more tomorrow.

    DAC Beachcroft next week

It's been a bad week for job losses, with RoF breaking the news* of 60 roles at risk at Camerons and Dundas & Wilson as a result of their merger, and voluntary redundancies at Trowers & Hamlins.

*Instructions to the Lawyer - cut, paste, cheerzthanxbye.


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Exclusive: 60 redundancies as result of Camerons / Dundas merger
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0
21 March 2014
RollOnFriday can reveal that 60 jobs are at risk following the recently announced merger of Dundas & Wilson and CMS Cameron McKenna.

Some 40 support staff at D&W and 20 support staff at Camerons (and Camerons' third party suppliers) have been put on notice and will hear their fate later today or early next week. Redundancies are clearly inevitable in these mergers, but that's a lot of roles...

A spokeswoman for Camerons wouldn't comment.

Read more about it in next week's news.
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Exclusive: Irwin Mitchell dumped by National Grid
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0
17 March 2014
RollOnFriday understands that Irwin Mitchell is being binned by National Grid.

The firm was first appointed to the energy giant's 16 firm panel in 2011. NG announced earlier this year that it was launching a review into the firms it uses, with a view to some having their contracts renewed for a further year and others having theirs terminated. Irwin Mitchell has been cast alongside the goats and will lose a stack of cash (although it's not believed that any jobs are in the firing line).

    Irwin Mitchell being kicked off a panel. How it might look.

This is the latest kick in the nuts for the beleagered firm, which lost a very valuable referal relationship with insurers LV last November. Still, at least the firm now comes up when you Google its name, so it's managed to put one of its woes behind it.

We're still waiting on comment from the firm. Read more on Friday.


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Britain's top divorce lawyer in toe curling website shame
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7
14 March 2014
Thanks to the many readers who sent in links to the website celebrating the forthcoming nuptials of divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag and astrophysicist Stephen Bence.

Ayesha is Chairman of Vardags solicitors, and describes herself as Britain's top divorce lawyer. And to be fair she's certainly up there with the top handful. Vardags has grown from a one woman outfit to become one of the City's best-known divorce outfits, and has made Ayesha very wealthy into the bargain. As this website is at pains to display.

Ayesha and Stephen welcome you to their lovely home in the Cathedral Close in Winchester. "Once the palace of the Bishop of Basingstoke, then the Cathedral offices (people still come in looking for a parking permit), it is now very much our family home, perhaps for the rest of our lives."

     

The reception will be held here, with Ayesha looking the part. "My hair will have been done by Tom at Nicky Clark, who has cut my hair since I was 22 years old; my makeup by the artist who styled me for my first glossy magazine feature in Easy Living." And taking pride of place will be her engagement ring, "a Harry Winston peridot and diamond affair, not designed to be an engagement ring at all. Peridots are among the most ancient of precious stones, and match both Stephen’s and my eyes."

For those who can't wait until the big day, a supersize photo is provided.

     

Directions to the Close are also thoughtfully provided, along with a suggestion as to how guests might like to arrive:

     

As guests will now have gathered, Ayesah is very, very rich. Which presents something of a quandry as far as presents are concerned. As Ayesha says, they already have "lots of vases and dishes and napkins and the like". So guests are encouraged to make a donation to a worthy charity.

Nah, only joking. They are asked to chip into the couple's honeymoon in Hawai:

"Over the next months we will put together a menu of items from our planned trip for you to buy for us as gifts if you wish, ranging from cocktails at sunset on the beach, to a trip up a volcano, to a night in one of our hotels. In the meantime, however, I include the link to the Cox & Kings itinerary we plan to follow."

I guess you don't get to be so very, very rich by being stupid...

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Exclusive: BPP students invited to be 'escorts'
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1
13 March 2014
Thanks to the student who emailed in this flyer - apparently they have been appearing all over BPP law school at Holborn today:


   

Maybe it's one of BPP's exercises in commercial awareness. Students have to work out that the likelihood of hot, successful businesswomen paying £150 an hour for Magic Circle wannabes to hang off their arms at the opera is between zero and f*ck all. And certainly rather less than that of their "application fee" being trousered and never seen again.

Or that offering themselves up for this sort of thing might be a career limiting move. The website has pictures of young men in varying states of undress ("non-sexual companion services" my arse) on sale for the discerning City lady. Including "Daniel", who describes himself (under a picture of him naked from the waist up) thus:

"I'm educated in Law, have an athletic physique and am very easy-going and natural in social situations. I would love to help you in any way I can so do give me a call and we can try and arrange something."

I bet the firm that's paying your way through law school would be delighted to read that, Daniel.

Or maybe this really is money for old rope. Any students who've had positive experiences of this sort of thing can write in anonymously here.



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