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Blog Name: Jamie's blog

HogLove's Autumn retention rate best in three years
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03 July 2015

Hogan Lovells has posted an improved trainee retention rate of 79%.

The firm scored 72% in Spring - though one NQ was on a fixed term contract - but has managed a 79% retention rate in respect of its September-qualifying intake. Of the 29 trainees, 26 applied for jobs, 25 received offers and 23 accepted. Again, though, one is on a fixed term contract.

Spookily enough, 44% (10) of the NQs are becoming corporate lawyers. Of the remainder, six are joining the Litigation, Arbitration & Employment practice, four Finance, two Competition and one real estate.

    "Some new blood wouldn't go amiss, I can't sharpen the crayons like I used to"

HogLove's trainee retention rates have been in the 70s for the last six intakes. But if the NQ on a fixed term is given a permanent job, making this Autumn's stat a bona fide 79%, it will represent the firm's best result in three years.

Let RollOnFriday know your firm's Autumn retention rates.
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Breaking: poonami at Macfarlanes
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03 July 2015

Someone's reached the end of their tether at Macfarlanes:

Thanks to the spotter for bringing the Four Square Limit Stool Cushion Rule to RollOnFriday's attention.

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Gibson Dunn's drastic warning
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02 July 2015

US firm Gibson Dunn has suffered a lot of terrible publicity over its ex-partner Peter Gray, whose career at the firm ended abruptly when an infuriated judge ruled that he had deliberately misled the court. The protracted proceedings were widely-reported, and it's easy to see why. The case had all the ingredients of a Frederick Forsyth potboiler - a framed man, an exotic African locale, grenade launchers, plus lashings of John Grisham - overruled associates, a courtroom finale and even a puce judge.

Still, you'd think the firm would want to move on. Instead it seems to have taken the partner-bashing to heart, slapping a big warning on the front door that it's a hazardous area.

It's a self-flagellation too far. Visitors just need to be advised not to perjure themselves.

In a final twist to this extraordinary tale, when I took the photo a man shouted that I was a "fucking dickhead!". Sadly it wasn't Gibson Dunn management or Peter Gray, just a cyclist enraged that I had stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures of building works like an idiot.
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Good haircut in Broadgate
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26 June 2015

I was round the corner from Herbies, A&O and Ashurst eating lunch in Broadgate when an absolute stunner strolled by.

Although I pretended to take pictures of the Liverpool Street panorama, he was in all of them and I got quite close to his head. I think he became suspicious. But he's got to be used to it. I mean.

Look at that beauty!

By this time I think he had an inkling.

He sounded Russian. I pray he was somebody's client, and later that day sun-deprived associates staggered from their offices to completion drinks and clapped eyes for the first time on their slavedriver, this titan, this prince of haircuts. How they must have danced. The sleepless nights, forgotten in an instant. The absurd instructions, forgiven.
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Exclusive: Olswang's German lawyers leave en masse
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18 June 2015

Olswang's lawyers in Berlin have quit the firm, leaving its European network in tatters.

RollOnFriday can exclusively reveal that Olswang's lawyers in its Berlin office, including 13 equity partners and totalling approximately 62 lawyers, have left the technology, media and telecoms firm en masse. RoF understands that they are joining Morrison Foerster. Sources report that the Germans were shocked and upset by the ousting of former CEO Dave Stewart, who had championed European expansion.

It would be a stunning coup for MoFo. The German operation was a profit machine for Olswang, reporting strong results in 2013/14 while PEP fell, and it has an excellent reputation in the market. Freshfields are also understood to have had an eye on the  team. Morrison Foester has form, having opened in Germnay in 2013 by poaching Hogan Lovell's entire German office.

A source told RollOnFriday a few weeks ago that all of Olswang's German lawyers had handed in their notice at once. At the time the firm hotly denied the story in writing, but it now appears that the firm was...'incorrect'.

In a panicked statement rushed out when RoF asked it for a comment, Olswang’s CEO Paul Stevens said: “Given Olswang’s focus on TMT, we have agreed that our Berlin colleagues will continue to seek to grow their practice under a different brand. While these changes will reduce the firm’s revenues in the short-term, we expect no significant effect on our profitability, nor any disruption to the implementation of our strategic plans and longer term sustained growth."

Read more on Friday
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Scam artist, meet Gordon Fathands and his unstable lawyer
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16 June 2015

Last year I corresponded with a conman called Sadiq who wanted me to collect a fortune in gold bars from Syria. I pretended to be an old man with a silly name and sent stupid emails to Sadiq until tragically Mr Wibble died in a freak poisoning accident which reduced him to two large bags of mince.

With that, I thought I'd lost my chance to get rich. But good things come to those who check their junk mail folder, and a couple of weeks ago terminal case 'Michelle Davis' got in touch, followed by her bank manager 'Abdul Rasheed' and her lawyer 'Arthur Peter'. Their emails are edged in black for clarity and because you may want to skip bits of them (for someone at death's door, Michelle sure can rattle on). In the blue corner is Team Childish.

While Michelle digests Gordon's vision, he wastes no time getting in touch with her bank manager, 'Abdul Rasheed', to start the ball rolling on a transfer of funds:

While Abdul decides whether to bring his family to a church of the Dark Lord for the sake of a customer, Gordon Fathands' lawyer touches base with Michelle's attorney, 'Arthur Peter'.

Time for Gordon Fathands to check back in with Michelle.

While Michelle contemplates her extraordinary legacy, David Cretin reports back to black-haired, moustachioed karaoke tease 'Arthur Peter'.

So. Er. Let's see if anyone writes back.
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Exclusive: Whacking pay rises at White & Case - NQs now on £90,000
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10 June 2015

White & Case has given junior lawyers some really juicy raises.

Effective from 1 May, the firm has bumped the salary for newly-qualifieds from £75,000 to a whopping £90,000.

Meanwhile 2PQEs rocket over the £100,000 line and 3PQEs are now going to be on £110,000.

Here's the table:


2015 salary (£)

2014 salary (£)

Trainee Year 1



Trainee Year 2















4 to 9+



A spokesman said the "significant" raises, which put White & Case well above the likes of the Magic Circle and more in line with high-paying US firms like Akin Gump (which pays NQs £100,000), followed "discussions with partners, feedback from the Firm’s employee committee representatives and analysis of the market". It looks like they definitely listened to the employee reps, at least.

     Now filled with extra gold

The spokesman said that the London office "is pivotal to the Firm’s global ambitions and continued success". Hence a new, juicier carrot.

Read more on Friday.
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Why firms should not let the kid in the office do the Twitter feed
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04 June 2015

Broad Yorkshire Law has been crucified in the media and forced to issue a grovelling apology for tweeting this after four people were seriously hurt on the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers:

When social media went ape, followed by the Daily Mail, Broad Yorkshire solicitor Lois Baylis issued an apology on Facebook. "I do not blame people for being horrified by the tweet", she said, claiming that the firm, "would never try to profit in such a way from such a terrible accident" (except for that one time).

She blamed the off-colour tweet on "a junior member of staff" who "was responsible for the twitter feed". Translation: Graham [not his real name] was the only person in the office who knew what Tweets was so we let him get on with it. She also said that Graham's "previous tweets illustrate his desire to be humorous", a dry comment which rather suggests that everyone else in the office was quite pleased twitter was keeping him busy, whatever twitter was. Until it went horribly wrong, of course.

After all, it meant these gems got shot harmlessly into the twittersphere instead of into their ears:

Why the hell wasn't there an outcry about that one? Graham also dealt in slightly dubious boasts:

I feel sorry for Graham. People didn't seize on the Alton Towers tweet because it was ambulance chasing, but because it appeared to treat the accident like a joke. We love to see a corporation slip up and reveal how inhuman it really is. Only, in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. This wasn't the machine being unmasked as ghastly and crass, it was the machine being unmasked as a dude who tweets because no-one else wants to, or knows how. Graham is the opposite of the machine. The real problem is those exclamation marks. But anyone familiar with Graham's tweets, as, sadly, I now am, knows that he puts exclamation marks on EVERYTHING.

He whispers with exclamation marks. He commiserates using them. He'll probably send invites which say, "Dad's dead!! Come to the funeral!! #RIPDAD #Buffet". It's just his way. Context is all, and with it Graham's rollercoaster effort looks a lot less heartless. But that's not the apology the firm gave. Probably wise. It was still a pretty bad tweet.

The problem is, of course, that all Graham's cracker jokes, all his misunderstood gold, went out stamped with the firm's logo, and was treated accordingly. Before social media everything that left the building was vetted by everyone at the firm except Graham, who was kept away with the end of a broom. Now, because many of the adults still don't grasp the brave new world of the internets, he's been given the power to instantly send out whatever he wants, branded as the business. Which means a law firm says stuff like:

Long may the Grahams of this world control their masters' voices.
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A 36-year-old self-made millionaire has bought the University of Law
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02 June 2015

The University of Law has been sold to a 36-year-old entrepreneur who also owns the London School of Business & Finance.

Self-made millionaire Aaron Etingen's purchase may herald a seachange in legal education which will benefit students. Although lecturers at one of  Etingen's other colleges have complained of chaotic organisation and a lack of basic teaching resources.

Three years ago the management of the College of Law was allowed to abandon its charitable status and flog the place off to private equity house Montagu for £200 million. Under Montagu's tenure, despite being awarded University status, Ulaw struggled in the law market with the loss of several major clients. Allen & Overy ditched it in favour of BPP in 2013 and, as revealed exclusively by RollOnFriday, fellow Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance did the same in 2014. In 2013 the Open University also ended its partnership with ULaw, a contract worth a rumoured £3 million a year.

On the plus side for the private equity house, it clawed back a bit of profit with some serious asset stripping, as RollOnFriday predicted. In 2014 it sold the valuable Bloomsbury campus in a 12 year sale and leaseback deal to funds group Schroders, netting Montagu £68m (and probably signalling the end of the campus' life: Shroders immediately made noises about how, when the lease ends, it can take advantage of the change of use provisions which, as Montagu's sale particulars specified, mean the site can be turned into a luxury hotel). And with that windfall Montagu is getting out. It clearly wasn't ever interested in education, just in turning a quick buck. The protestations it made over the last three years now look pretty hollow.

So who is the new owner? Global University Systems, which bought ULaw for an undisclosed sum, is led by its founder and executive chairman, mega-rich entrepreneur Aaron (born Arkady) Etingen. Unlike Montagu, Etingen is actually interested in education - GUS owns several higher education businesses, including the London School of Business and Finance, Britains's largest private college.

    No-one liked Phil and Kirsty's replacements

What actually interests Etingen about education is a thornier question. GUS has a...spotty record. Last year lecturers working in the London College of Contemporary Arts division of LSBF rebelled over a 20% pay cut and complained that the LCCA suffered from "chaotic timetabling, invoice payments, room allocation, poor levels of educational resources, inadequate student intake assessments and class sizes" in a letter leaked to the media. Teachers said that they were so under-resourced they had to carry a whiteboard from room to room. The unhappy lecturers also accused GUS of a failure to deal with "aggressive students", which was tolerated because "they bring in money". LSBF denied the allegations.

In February another GUS college, St Patricks, was suspended from the student loans system after questions were raised about the explosive growth in the number of its publically-funded students. The subsequent pressure on the college led to St Patricks apologising to students for "not sufficient resources" and overcrowding. It was readmitted in May and told to address quality concerns which included dropout rates of over 30%.

But while 36-year-old Etingen (who started his empire from a London attic and whose heros are Steve Jobs and Walt Disney) may have a pile 'em high model, he could - potentially - transform the legal education sector. Not afraid of innovation, he previously launched an online MBA which students only had to pay for at the point at which they chose to sit the exam. If he takes that approach with the LPC, allowing students to study from home and to cut out the expensive gamble which the course is for those who have not lined up training contracts, he could put everyone else out of business. At the very least, he should give ULaw, which was recently reduced to handing out leaflets in Leeds city centre, a shot in the arm. Even if it's just by making David Blunkett its chairman (which is happening) and stacking the place with fighty students (tbc).

Commenting on the deal, Etingen said, “The acquisition of the University of Law adds an asset of unique strategic value to GUS. Having ULaw ultimately provide a proven governance and quality framework for GUS’ UK interests is a major benefit to us and will further enhance the impact of our work with students and employers alike”.
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Exclusive: Simpson Millar shuts down Liverpool office
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01 June 2015

National firm Simpson Millar has closed its Liverpool office and made the branch's five staff redundant.

Until midday, when the office shut and the phones were disconnected, the Leeds-based firm had 205 employees across 13 offices.


A spokesman told RollOnFriday that the firm recently undertook a review of its clinical negligence structure and decided to shunt the Liverpool office's work to the Leeds and London sites, "where the majority of our senior clinical negligence specialists are located". Certainly now, anyway.

The move follows Simpson Millar's purchase by listed financial services company Fairpoint Group last year, which seems to have discovered the opportunity for precious synergies. “This has unfortunately led to the decision to move all case files from Liverpool to these sites", said the spokesman, which has "affected [i.e. ended the jobs of] five employees who operated solely from the Liverpool site".

But dry your eyes, because, "We believe the new operating structure for clinical negligence will ensure our clients receive the best possible service from Simpson Millar". Hurrah!
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