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Blog Name: Jamie Hamilton @ RoF

Exclusive: Meagre Slaughter and May pay rises fail to match A&O
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04 May 2016

Slaughter and May has confirmed the exact amounts of its pay rises after RollOnFriday revealed yesterday that it had concluded its salary review to the sound of a slow fart. Staff were apparently left unimpressed by hikes "at best in line with inflation", of "around £2,000".

The firm has now confirmed its rises, and some bands are getting even less than £2k. Trainee salaries are rising by £1,500. A first year trainee will be paid £42,500, up from £41,000, while a second year tainee will be on £47,500, up from £46,000.

Insiders told RollOnFriday that staff were "disillusioned" with the hikes, ostensibly because they failed to match Allen & Overy's bumper salaries, which were brought in to staff delight last year.

It is clear that Slaughters really has shied away from matching Allen & Overy. NQ salaries also rise by £1,500, to £71,500, remaining £7,000 less than an A&O NQ's salary. It's the same story at every level. Slaughters has raised 1PQE pay by £3,500, but there's a gulf between the £79,000 they're now on and the eye-watering £92,000 a 1PQE receives at A&O. 2PQE pay is increasing by £3,250, to £90,250, but that's over £14,000 less than a 2PQE receives at A&O. The difference rises to £15,250 at 3PQE level.

 £k 2016 rise?
NQ
1PQE 2PQE 3PQE
Allen & Overy
 Not yet
 78.5  92  104.5  115
Linklaters*  Yes  81  90  100  111
Clifford Chance
 Not yet
 70  75.5  88  98.5
Freshfields**  Not yet
 70  75  90.6  96.8
Slaughter and May (old pay)
 Yes  (70) 71.5
 (75.5) 79
 (87) 90.25
 (96.5) 99.75

*Unlike the other firms, Links releases figures which include the bonus along with the salary, so its figures appear higher. The figures in this table are a median salary plus a median bonus.
**Freshfields NQs and 1PQEs fall within Freshfields' "Career Milestones Foundation" band which pays between £67,500 and £77,500. 2PQEs and 3PQEs fall within "CM1" which pays between £87,500 and £100,000.


Inside sources told RollOnFriday that Slaughters staff, who on the upside do not have billable hours targets, are "pretty disillusioned". One said, "we don't expect to keep up with US firms, but when a lawyer at the same PQE at another MC firm is earning £10k more than you when your firm has just made up 10 new partners, it starts to grate".

Slaughters' new rates are effective from 1 May. Despite being lickle, they do mean that Slaugher and May pay now trumps salaries at Clifford Chance. CC staff will be waiting eagerly to see if management decides to lift them to A&O levels of wealth with a 2016 pay review or decide, naaah, if S&M can get away with it so can they. .... read more >
Exclusive: Slaughter and May raises pay
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03 May 2016

Slaughter and May has failed to match Allen & Overy with its new pay rises, leaving staff "disillusioned".

The results of the firm's 2016 pay review were announced internally on Friday. Apparently across most bands the increases are "at best in line with inflation", around £2,000. That would put solicitors on less than peers at Freshfields and Linklaters (which is so far the only other MC firm to raise pay this year) and nowhere near the earnings of lawyers at A&O, which gave staff unexpectedly massive rises last summer.

Sources report that Slaughters associates are, as a result, "pretty disillusioned". One said, "we don't expect to keep up with US firms, but when a lawyer at the same PQE at another MC firm is earning £10k more than you when your firm has just made up 10 new partners, it starts to grate".

    The day of his promotion he realised associates were actually ridiculously overpaid.

More details to follow in Friday's news.
.... read more >
Exclusive: London's Leading Solicitors revealed
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26 April 2016

Begone, Slaughter and May. Gaze in wonder, Clifford Chance. Tremble in fear, A&O. Yes, pee your pants, Linklaters, and show some respect, Freshfields, and drop to your knees Herbies because it's...




You are all wheezing fat dogs, tongues lolling, drool pouring, willing in spirit but not in body, falling further and further behind the sleek greyhound of Robinson Ravani, London's Leading Solicitors, as it slices away across the field as effortlessly as a sunbeam.




It would be unforgiveably churlish to take the michael out of a firm for a bit of wild puffery. So, onwards to hell. Robinson Ravani needs to devote some of its considerable acumen to finishing its website, which has a few gaps.




However a website with some empty spaces and photos solely of Chinese people and an absence of any working links is small beer to a market leader. With only four solicitors, the firm is used to seeing the odds stacked against it, but nothing has yet prevented Robinson Ravani's continuing, merciless domination of the capital from its office in Forest Gate off the main road round the back of the Anand Pan Centre.



Manchester's leading lawyers salute them. .... read more >
Exclusive: Squire Patton Boggs associate blows up on Reddit claiming greed, pressure and sexism led her to quit $400k job
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26 April 2016

A Squire Patton Boggs lawyer has achieved fame on teh internets by revealing in a series of posts on Reddit how self-loathing, greed, pressure and sexism led her to quit the firm after nine years as an associate.

Using the 'Ask Me Anything' format, Kristen Johnson explained that she was posted to the firm's Doha office for two and a half years but quit after she became "disgusted" by the "luxury lifestyle and lawyers who would give anything and everything to make millions".

    Johnson's Reddit proof

The post rose to the top of the front page of the popular site as readers left over 1,492 comments and questions for the lawyer, who worked in Squire Patton Boggs' international arbitration practice.

SQB will not be happy about her extremely juicy public exit interview. Under the heading, "IamA burned out international lawyer just returned from Qatar making almost $400k per year, feeling jet lagged and slightly insane at having just quit it all to get my life back, get back in shape, actually see my 2 young boys, and start a toy company, AMA!" Johnson gave intimate details of her alleged working life at Squire Patton Boggs. She said that her annual target was 2,500 hours including non-billable hours, and that she billed "about 2200/year". She billed less during the years she took maternity leave, which she claimed "massively impacted my bonus, partner, and salary increase eligibility”.

Attracting a sympathetic response from other posters, Johnson said, "I encountered blatant gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and a very clear glass ceiling" at the firm. "Having a baby apparently makes you worth less as a lawyer".

    D'oha

The ex-associate told Reddit users, “I did feel pressure towards the end to either keep working (increasingly) insane hours or resign”. When her grandmother died in November, "I found out 2 hours before I was heading to the airport to work at a hearing for 3 weeks" and "couldn't even take the time to mourn". She said it was "horrible", and the misery was compounded when "I missed her funeral the next month because of another hearing”.

"There's a boot camp mentality", said Johnson, "and a reward mentality that if you sacrifice everything, you'll ultimately win the prize. I know it's cliche, but it is probably true that the prize is like winning more pie at a pie eating contest".

Health was also an issue. "I was putting in about 60-70 hours per week on average for the firm", wrote Johnson, which meant "I rarely exercised", "gained a lot of weight" and "ached all the time from computers and sitting".

Johnson did have some nice things to say about Squire Patton Boggs. She "loved not having to worry about money", earning enough to provide college funds for her two children, buy two houses, save a large amount and enjoy a lifestyle where she and her husband "could travel and splurge and it didn't matter".

    Lawyer Johnson

But living around people "who worked 24/7 and didn't see their kids" made her "stop and think about what on earth I was doing". In March she quit SPB, and is now back in the US where she plans to start a boy doll company with her sister. "I became inspired to start a company making boy dolls after I couldn't find any cool ones for my own sons", she said. They are "designed to be a compliment doll to the many girl dolls out there, especially American Girl. They are the approximate same size, just slightly taller with molded hair".

RollOnFriday has asked SPB for a comment (not about the doll stuff). .... read more >
Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger schooled ECJ judges at lunch after they bored him
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18 April 2016

On Saturday in Edinburgh, President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger delivered the keynote closing address at the World Bar Conference. The transcript of Neuberger's speech has now been released and reveals that he got so bored watching hearings in the European Court of Justice that he took the judges to task over lunch and left them
really sad if not traumatised.

Neuberger disclosed that on his first visit to the ECJ in Luxembourg he attended a morning’s hearings and observed with increasing distaste that, "each party had 20 minutes to put its case, and was listened to in silence, after which the judges put, I think, one question." Which "was not really answered by the advocate to whom it was addressed."

Afterwards the ECJ judges made the fateful decision to invite their British visitor to lunch where they asked him how he had enjoyed their morning's work. Neuberger says he made it clear to them that the hearings had been "unexciting to the point of being soporifically leaden."

   

The Baron of Abbotsbury continued, asking the judges whether they "didn’t find it frustrating, indeed boring, to listen to advocates, without being able to ask them questions as they went along, without being able to engage in dialogue, and without being able to get them to concentrate on the points which concerned the court." The ECJ judges reacted with "a mixture of amusement and shock."

The amused grandees went on the attack, telling Neuberger that British judges "talked too much," and implied that Newrosbeef and his British colleagues "should learn the virtue of silence." The shocked judges "considered it to be judicial solecism for a judge to interrupt an advocate," and said that British judges "should not be even contemplating it." A Portuguese judge told Neuberger that in his country, "it was judicial misconduct for a judge to interrupt an advocate."


  "Hey Judge Stupid! I'm talking here!" - Portugal

After what was hopefully an awkward silence, "the conversation then moved on." But Neuberger had set an ugly thought running through their minds which no amount of comparing favourite cuts on Zayn's new album could silence. "A bit later," reports Neuberger, the conversation "turned back to the hearings" when one of the judges commented on Neuberger's surprise that ECJ advocates simply read out their submissions. Neuberger explained that, "not merely was there no spontaneity, it seemed to me there was not even an attempt to engage with the court." The judges "rather mournfully agreed," says Neuberger, and admitted that "they regretted it."

 

Pwned and completely broken, another confessed that advocates from the UK "were consistently and easily the best oral makers of submissions" in the Luxembourg court. "A proposition," says Neuberger, "to which the other judges all agreed."

   

With that, Neuberger polished off his pud, rose and swept off to the Eurostar, leaving a table of shaken ECJ judges questioning their worth and that of their justice systems. Several started to weep, but another said, no, don't you see, for the first time we are not blind, and then all of them slowly started to smile, as they realised that although they were scared and sad and lost they were, for the first time, truly awake.


Neuberger also speaks eloquently in his speech on the challenges which legal aid cuts present to the rule of law, how the press stiched him up when he said he preferred not to read casefiles and the threat of robots.

Lord Neuberger's speech

.... read more >
Six reasons to watch Conspiracy Theory
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17 April 2016

Hollywood is addicted to lawyers. From courtroom showdowns to the neat way a new case can introduce audiences to a mystery, the profession lends itself to fruitful dramatic interpretation by our coked-up dreamweavers. In this column we join hands across the internet to eulogise films with a connection, often an unforgivably tangential one, to the law.  

This week is the turn of Conspiracy Theory, a misfiring mishmash of zany comedy, thriller and romance which stars Mel Gibson. Even when the film was released in 1997, those elements didn't gel particularly well. Today, viewed through the prism of Gibson's fall from grace, it is a squirm-inducing horror show. Which actually makes the film a lot more interesting to watch. Before sugartitsgate, Conspiracist Theory was a mediocre also-ran. Viewed today it is a rich tapestry of clanging alarm bells, unintentional awks and shrill dog whistles. In short, a joy.


 

Theory No. 1
: it was the Jews


Julia Roberts co-stars as Alice Sutton, a justice department lawyer who can't bring herself to call the cops on Gibson's character even though he has a troubling fixation with her. In an early scene she mutters that he is a "restraining order waiting to happen.

 



This film was the canary in the coal mine


America's Sweetheart is no stranger to the world of movie lawyers. In The Pelican Brief she played a 24-year-old law student, in Erin Brockovich she's qualifed, and she's back to the courtroom in the upcoming Train Man. None of these roles, though, force her to take a whacky trip with Gibson. Here are six reasons to watch it unfold:


1. In Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson played himself.

We didn't realise it at the time. Until ten years ago Gibson was, as far as the public was concerned, spotless. He was pure A-list, taking names in Lethal Weapons, capering in What Women Want. But a drunken run-in with the cops in 2006 brought Mel's carefully constructed persona crashing down, along with his career as a leading man. Gibson was exposed as, at best, an alcoholic with an anger management problem and at worst a raging, racist, women-hating anti-Semite.

This new information recast the hero of all those films we loved as 'Creepy Dude'. Unless you're blessed with a four-year-old's ability to suspend disbelief, Gibson's predilection for mugging now comes across as an unfunny bully's demand for laughter. His impressions of a loon do not look like an impressive stretch. Romantic scenes invite the memory of his phone call to his ex-wife in which he told her, "You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n*****s, it will be your fault."

All these newly-polluted fragments of Gibson's shtick are on display in Conspiracy Theory, but the most interesting thing about his character, cab driver Jerry Fletcher, is how extremely close it is to the modern conception of what Gibson is actually like. A tinfoil hat-wearing loonbar, in between regaling fares with his latest paranoid delusions (which, tellingly, Gibson supposedly ad-libbed), Jerry spends his time cutting up newspapers and drawing links between stories for a newsletter called Conspiracy Theory. The 90s equivalent of a birther who writes a blog about the dangers of vaccines, Jerry's obsession is "them.'They' are the powerful, mysterious cabal who pull the strings of our world, who have no names and all the power. As Jon Ronson explains in his eponymous book, 'them' is often invoked as a codeword for 'the Jews'. Given Gibson's explosion in 2006 that "fucking Jews" are "responsible for all the wars in the world" it feels like dinner at Mel's when Jerry explains to Alice that 'they' are "
families that have held wealth for centuries", who "monitor everything," and "feed us terrorists to create fear."

  Warning: Mel at work

In 1997, Jerry managed to avoid coming across as genuinely dangerous because Gibson was playing him. In 2016, Gibson's involvement makes him look like the next Unabomber.


2. Mel Gibson drowns Patrick Stewart with a mop.

And then Roberts unloads a pistol into him. Patrick Stewart plays the bad guy, and his secret base is a derelict power station. There is nothing in it except broken masonry, rusty plumbing and dust. But also a mop. It's not clear why there is a mop. No-one has done any cleaning in this abandoned building for years. It's been emptied. There's no furniture. There's no equipment apart from Patrick Stewart's set of mind control syringes (this film is complicated in stupid ways). There are a few gunmen but none of them look like they wanted to tidy up the place a bit because they knew they were going to be patrolling it all night and chaining Mel Gibson to a pipe. So who brought the mop? No-one knows. But in the film's climax Jerry grabs it and suddenly Patrick Stewart, esteemed thespian, Captain of the Enterprise, Professor X, a Knight of the Realm, finds himself getting his face all mopped up.

 

And his mouth.


 

Mel channels one hundreth of the hatred he feels towards the critics who gave The Patriot a bad review, and you


Patrick Stewart has played Prospero, Macbeth and Othello. Early in the film Jerry bites his nose off.





"Yes yes I smell awful."


I hope he got a big cheque.


3. Louis Litt is in it.

This reason is only going to fly with Suits aficionados, but one hour, forty four minutes and fifty seconds into this crapfest Louis Litt appears. For some reason he is dressed as a security guard, even though he would have been an associate by then. But he is just as Louis Litty as ever. In his meager three lines he manages to
simultaneously convey 'peeved', 'nervous', 'evasive', 'suspicious' and 'cocky'. Also, his sole purpose is to turn on the lights.

   Yes, that's right



Conspiracy Theory
literally got Litt up



4.    Lauryn Hill appears on the soundtrack.

For some reason Lauryn Hill performs a rap about conspiracy theories over the end credits. Although perhaps it's not that surprising. Like Gibson, subsequent events suggest she probably bought into all the crackpot fantasies underpinning the film. Like Gibson, both are hugely talented, both made ill-judged remarks, both claim they were misconstrued as racist and both are beset by personal demons which have transformed them from stars into pariahs. Both are now politely turned away from smart parties.


5.    Julia Roberts does no law.

Alice has a job, she has a secretary, she has a boss, she has apparently no work to do. Every time crazy Jerry turns up at the office, she has no problem meeting him round the back of the building, hopping on a bus with him, or visiting his house of nightmares which he's rigged to burst into flames. At least in The Pelican Brief shewrote a brief about pelicans. In Conspiracy Theory Alice allows a green ink madman to dominate hours of her time. When I worked at the courts there was a gentleman who wrote complaints in a spiral, in crayon. I didn't spend too long on them. Alice would have leapt in his van and gone careening off to Ipswich on an adventure without a second thought. The public sector is forgiving, but it's not that forgiving.


6.    Roberts and Gibson have a toxic relationship.

Jerry straight up stalks Alice. Not in the modern, revisionist sense, which has seen commentators suggest that it's somehow creepy of John Cusack to stand outside a girl's house with a stereo until she takes him back.

  "Accept you love me."

No, he stalks her in the traditional sense, sitting in his car outside Alice's apartment night after night staring at her through binoculars.

  Julia

     
     
 Mel  Mel  Mellllllll

And he has a collage he made out of stolen photos of her. You know, like a serial killer. This behaviour is explained away as an unshakeable urge Jerry has to 'protect' Alice which was triggered when he was programmed to assassinate her father, but couldn't go through with it because, as mentioned above, this film is complicated but stupid.

It is not a convincing excuse for stalking, but in 1997 Gibson was so popular he could play dodgy kooks like Jerry and audiences would buy them as troubled sweeties.

Now, not so much. Gibson’s twinkly-eyed charm looks like the calculated affectation of a misogynist who sweeps you off your feet then confiscates your phone, bans you from seeing your friends and beats you for having imagined affairs. If only Alice had seen Sleeping with the Enemy, she would have spotted the signs. And there are quite a few. Jerry barges into her office to babble that NASA is controlling earthquakes to kill the president.

  "Honey, I'm homicidal!"

Later, he staggers in covered in blood, holds the security guards at gunpoint and screams at her that he bit off Patrick Stewart's nose. She also discovers that he was hired to kill her father and that he's been watching her for years.

She keeps coming back. At the end of the film Alice, who thinks Jerry has died, goes horse-riding, and discovers a badge pinned on it which belonged to the unhinged pest. Realising he must still be alive, creeping around in the vicinity, she should immediately fill her jodhpurs and gallop to the nearest police station. Instead she is absolutely delighted.

While she rides, Jerry secretly watches her through a hedge.

  "MmmmMello"

When she dumps Jerry they will never find her body.

When to watch Conspiracy Theory: Conspiracy Theory is the perfect date movie if one of you is there against your will.

Fun fact: Before filming began, Gibson sent his leading lady a gift-wrapped, freeze-dried rat as an "introductory prank".

Rating: Four Mads out of Mel.

More 'Reasons to watch':

12 Angry Men

Rounders

The Verdict

Robocop

.... read more >
Exclusive: Firm hacked and forced to sell diet pills
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13 April 2016

Northern Irish firm Holmes & Moffitt has become an unwitting vendor of dietary supplements.

Unusually for a law firm, it splits its website into five sections: Home, About Us, What We Do, Contact Us, and Weight Loss Pills.




The link works, taking browsers who came for conveyancing advice but stayed for a fat-shedding miracle to a screed of garbage text familiar to dedicated RoF readers. It goes on for ages. In fact it's by far the largest part of the site. I don't recommend reading it though, it's like Yoda tried to cash in and write his diet philosophy but suffered a massive and prolonged fit during the dictation.

However, it does throw up some good band names, underlined in case you're starting one.



The last time RoF reported hackers altering a law firm's website it was to sell viagra. They've done a more professional job this time. Holmes & Moffit's website is the latest IT assault to be wreaked on poor old law firms, some of which have only just got a handle on the telefacsimile machine. An angry, tech-savvy ex-client recently created an incredibly rude clone of an Austrian firm's official site. Mossack Fonseca has seen its dirty electronic laundry nicked and waved around. Olswang staff were fooled into paying scammers tens of thousands because someone emailed them pretending to be the Chief Exec. Last week it was revealed that Burges Salmon's website had been ripped off and reskinned by conmen who even stole the profiles of its lawyers.

Luckily, so far, RollOnFriday has escaped the attentions of the blackhats. All we get are excellent business offers from dying millionaires who picked us to invest their fortunes.
.... read more >
UK law firms connected to Panama Papers probed by SRA
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08 April 2016

UK law firms named in The Panama Papers are being asked to promise they acted appropriately by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The huge trove of leaked documents from offshore law firm Mossask Fonseca has dominated global news. Earlier this week British banks were given a deadline by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to reveal whether they have conducted business with Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the leaks. Apparently prompted by the FCA's probe, the SRA is now taking action. However, its investigation is far narrower in scope. While the FCA has asked banks to reveal any links to Mossack Fonseca, the SRA is only contacting those law firms which have already been named in the Panama Papers. So far, four have been identified: 

- Simmons & Simmons. The firm was revealed in the Panama Papers to have worked alongside Mossack Fonseca providing English law advice in relation to the formation of Blairmore Holdings, the offshore fund set up by the British Prime Minister's father.



- HFW. The firm was an adviser to UAE president Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in relation to his dealings in the UK. He was revealed to be the beneficial owner of companies established in the British Virgin Islands which held properties in London worth more than £1 billion.

- Pettman Smith, a London firm now known as Child & Child following its merger. The London firm has also been named as an adviser to Al Nahyan.

- Trethowans. The firm has been named among the leaked documents as an adviser to Baroness Pamela Sharples, a Conservative member of the House of Lords who has been shown to be a major shareholder of Bahamas-headquartered Nunswell Investments.

A spokesman for the SRA has said that it is “writing to those firms identified in the media as being linked to the Panama papers" to "ask for assurances that they have looked into the matter and have acted appropriately". He added that the SRA was "also liaising with other authorities with an interest”.



Asking firms to promise that everything is okeydokey, honest guv, is not the most invasive of investigative measures. However, even being dragged into the story will have been awkward. Getting caught up in an SRA probe, however limp it may appear, will be even more uncomfortable. RollOnFriday asked Simmons & Simmons to confirm its response to the SRA, or provide a comment. It declined.

It looks like the Panama Papers really are becoming law firms' Ashley Madison nightmare.
.... read more >
Exclusive: BLM partners in mass resignation
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07 April 2016

Half the partners in BLM's Southampton office have resigned.

According to an inside source, eight partners have handed in their notices en masse, including the head of the Southampton and Bristol offices, Michael Renshaw. The office has 16 partners in total.

The partners who are bailing are apparently citing management issues and the salary and bonus system as the key reasons for leaving BLM. Although presumably Renshaw thought his own leadership skills were ok. There are, say RollOnFriday's sources, "more disillusioned partners waiting in the wings". Other lawyers and non-fee-earners are also expected to leave. Which is perhaps not surprising given that a lot of work is presumably about to walk out the door.

    They all agreed not to break into a run until they were round the corner

The firm got a pasting in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2016 survey, in which it came fourth from bottom with 33%. Staff said the pay was "horrendous", entreating, "you should look into it - it really is a complete joke". Others said there is "terrible communication from the top" and a "totally opaque" bonus system. Employees are apparently so used to departures they have found a silver lining: "Members of staff leave and are not replaced which means there is room to stretch out on spare desks". At this rate they will have a floor each to themselves, following news that BLM is making mass redundancies in its Manchester office.

A spokeswoman for BLM told RollOnFriday, “We have received a number of resignations from lawyers within our Southampton office who have chosen to pursue new opportunities elsewhere at some point in the future".

But although half the office may be about to vanish, "We have strong relationships with customers currently supported by lawyers in Southampton and have been assured of their continuing support for BLM. We do not anticipate any impact on our existing relationships with those customers".

In fact, "The firm continues to attract talented people from within the industry and we look forward to announcing a number of key appointments at the firm in the very near future”.
.... read more >
The Panama Papers are UK firms' Ashley Madison nightmare
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05 April 2016

So I trust you've already searched your firm's email and matter databases for "Mossack Fonseca". If not, why not? You could be holding tomorrow's headlines in your hands, today. Or, if HR tracks those sorts of searches, standing in front of the office with a cardboard box waiting for your Uber, today.

The Panama Papers comprise 11.5 million files leaked from the world's fourth largest offshore firm to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ shared them with numerous other media organisations, and stories of rich and powerful people hiding their cash are now being drip-fed to the public and dominating bulletins around the world. Most of the documents aren't yet available, but those underpinning the stories which have broken so far can be found on the ICIJ website beneath bad drawings of the key figures. It's a grubby play in which 
UK law firms are already being unmasked as lead actors.


  It goes all the way to the top; Ant McPartlin and Denis Norden

Under a weak sketch of David Cameron, you will find the 2006 prospectus of Blairmore Holdings, Inc, which lists Simmons & Simmons as legal advisors to the fund in England, just above Mossack Fonseca's details.

    Smelly company

The fund on which Simmons advised has made headlines in the UK because it was set up by David Cameron's dad. According to the Guardian, Blairmore (surely that should have been Cameronmore?) avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain because it was incorporated in Panama and listed in the Bahamas, where it hired "a small army of Bahamas residents – including a part-time bishop" to sign its paperwork. All to disguise the fact, suggests the Guardian, that it was effectively controlled and managed from the UK, which would mean that it should have paid UK tax.

Last week RollOnFriday revealed that Simmons & Simmons had decided to screw over students, the legal press and honest firms by manipulating its trainee retention figures to make them look healthier than the actualité. It refused to 'fess up, and now karma has taken an almighty dump on it and revealed Simmons to have worked down the table from - not opposite, but alongside - The Dodgiest Firm In The World™. Simmons & Simmons is now inextricably linked with Mossack Fonseca in the biggest digital leak of all time and the biggest story of corruption of the year, if not the decade and therefore the century and therefore THE MILLENNIUM. A spokeswoman for the firm didn't seem that chuffed, telling me, "Unfortunately, this is something that we are unable to provide further information/comment on".

    Not a Simmons PR person, today

Presumably lawyers at Simmons & Simmons reacted with either disgust, annoyance, apathy, surprise or nihilistic enjoyment, depending on their state of mind and soul, when they saw that their firm had worked with Mossack Fonseca and that the association has been scooped up from the dusty vaults of long-forgotten, archived matters and dumped onto millions of laps around the globe. Simmons, of course,  will no doubt have complied with all the proper procedures in the Blairmore case. Unlike Mossack Fonseca, which has got up to all sorts, including recruiting a British pensioner to pretend to be the owner of a fortune in order to hide the identity of the true beneficiary.
Nonetheless, it's embarrassing for Simmons (and HFW, also named) to be labelled as a hollowed-out enabler of the amoral rich, rubbing along with a firm which has, amongst other alleged crimes, tarnished a great name for a Star Wars character.

   


"It appears that you have had unauthorized access to proprietary documents and information taken from our company and have presented and interpreted them out of context. We trust that you are fully aware that using information/documentation unlawfully obtained is a crime, and we will not hesitate to pursue all available criminal and civil remedies."

Simmons only has itself to blame. Mossack Fonseca was an obvious wrong 'un. It was the Jimmy Saville of law firms, hiding in plain sight with a highly secretive website which features no lawyer profiles and well-known for its links to every unsavoury character going, from dodgy dictators to Brexit-funder Arron Banks. There was even a Louis Theroux we-should-have-known moment, when Vice ran an expose in 2014.

As firms hunker down, one, Eversheds, has popped up to comment that the mood is rightly fearful.
Head of fraud and investigations Neill Blundell said,This is another example of someone blowing the whistle on the perceived use of off-shore tax havens like Panama to commit crime such as evading taxes and laundering monies".

"I imagine there may be many people who will be concerned about receiving a knock on the door from international law enforcement in the coming months
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Only a tiny fraction of the leaked documents has been released in order to give each scandal time to breathe in the 24 hour news cycle. Mossack Fonseca has been a busy firm, and you can bet your bottom dollar in a brown envelope stuffed with unmarked bills that right now, plenty of firms are enjoying some squeaky bum time along with Mossack Fonseca's publicity-shy clients.

The Panama Papers are law's Ashley Madison hack. It felt uncontroversial at the time, a discreet and uncomplicated fling. A brief and profitable no-strings-attached liaison. Except now the whole sordid affair is threatening to flop out across the Sunday papers, every fold and fumble exposed. Even if you aren't digging, your firm's compliance team is scrambling to wordsearch their database.
Did the firm work with MF, are the documents which prove it did explosive, and are they within the leaked cache? If the answer to the first two questions is yes, because once upon a time when it was drunk and vulnerable it advised on a deal to plop Mugabe's fortune in a Liberian-based fund run out of Lebanon, it will have to sit and wait, impotent and sweaty-palmed, to see if it features in tomorrow's scoop. Or the week after's. Cursing the day it ever allowed itself to be seduced by that exotic Panamanian femme fatale, Ms Mossack Fonseca. And wondering whether it should, actually, thinking about it, get checked out at the clinic. Though it might be a bit late for that.
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