Fides Weekly Update – 31st August 2018

Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in legal and compliance.

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1. Inclusive company culture pays off as Fieldfisher reports record-breaking results 

Fieldfisher cites its unique, people-focused strategy as the cause for its continued growth in the UK law firm market.

The firm posted top results this year, with a revenue increase of 24% to £207m. The firm’s PEP also grew by 17% to £750,000, whilst its top of equity surged from £2m to £3.2m, now sitting amongst the lockstep leaders at magic circle firms Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

These profitable figures show a great year for Fieldfisher, although the firm have been quietly gaining market share for a number of years now, and the firm’s London office has almost doubled its revenues since 2014 from £104m that year to £207m in 2018.

In a recent piece by Legal Week, Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick explains how a number of strategic decisions has resulted in the firm’s overall success.

Steer clear of big ticket mandates

“We’re trying to be a pacy, dynamic and fast-growing law firm. We’re not looking to be in the top 10 and we’re not looking to be Latham & Watkins’ size. We have to be realistic,” says Chissick.

“We are not trying to do global M&A, and we’re not chasing Freshfields’ big mandates, but we are chasing high-quality mandates, albeit not the biggest ticket stuff. And I think we can continue to grow and be more profitable.”

Be supportive of your people

The efforts made to create a unique, collaborative and fun internal culture can have a genuine effect on your bottom line.

“We want people with outside lives who value things like inclusion and looking after their people. It isn’t always about the number of hours you bill. US firms – like Latham or McDermott – are great firms with an amazing client base. Fieldfisher is something a bit different. It’s a different model here.”

The firm posted a 98% partner retention rate last year and over the last two years has retained 100% of its trainee cohorts.

Preserve a naturally differentiated practice

Diversifying its offering provides Fieldfisher with a low risk business strategy, allowing for any sudden market changes.

“We have a nice, naturally hedged business which isn’t dominated by any one particular sector,” he says. “We have a big practices in disputes, corporate, IP, tech and real estate. None of them account for more than 15% or 20% of our turnover. None over-dominates.”

It seems Fieldfisher has a real understanding of its business model and values, which has provided a clear and decisive strategy for all firm members to work towards, resulting in not only a profitable business, but also solid retention of talent.

Click here to read the full article.

2. Legg Mason draws line under Libyan bribery case with $34m SEC fine

Relating to a six year-long bribery scandal that involved two global financial institutions and Libyan officials, Legg Mason are the latest firm to receive a fine for its failure to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Legg Mason are due to pay over $34m in penalties, which is in addition to the $64m fine imposed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in June this year.

From 2004 to 2010, former Legg Mason subsidiary, Permal Group Inc, partnered with Societe Generale to solicit business from state-owned financial institutions in Libya. The two businesses employed a Libyan middleman to pay bribes to Libyan government officials in order to secure investments.

Whilst Legg Mason are due pay a fine which, according to a Legg Mason spokesperson, doesn’t expect to “have any impact on future investment and operations”, French bank SocGen’s penalties for the bribery case was a lot more severe.

SocGen’s $585 million resolution awarded the bank a fifth place ranking on the FCPA’s list of the top ten enforcement actions of all time, based on penalty sizes. The bank now sits amongst the likes of Och-Ziff, who agreed to pay $412 million for its bribery practices in 2016, and BAE, who were sentenced to pay $400 million in 2010 for making false statements to U.S. investigators concerning its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.


Movers & Shakers of the week

Panel Watch

French hospitality company Sodexo has appointed Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper and Eversheds Sutherland to each manage three distinct aspects of its legal services needs


DLA adds former regulator to London partnership

DLA Piper has hired a former SFO division head Patrick Rappo as a partner in the firm’s corporate criminal investigations group in London

Premier Foods secures new GC from fellow FMCG company

Simon Rose departs biscuit, chocolate and confectionery company Pladis as head of corporate legal affairs to join Premier Foods as its new general counsel and company secretary

BCLP lose fourth London partner this month

International arbitration partner Ania Farren will leave Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner to join litigation funder Vannin Capital

CMS boosts contentious construction capability

Catherine Gelder leaves her role as partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner to join CMS in London as a contentious construction and engineering partner

Buzzfeed hires new GC

Rhonda Powell is set to become the next general counsel at Buzzfeed, joining from US-based media company Complex Media

Clifford Chance expands HK litigation team

Former director of Hong Kong’s financial regulatory authority Jimmy Chan has joined Clifford Chance as a partner in the firm’s local litigation and dispute resolution practice

Mergers & Alliances

Mayer Brown drops the iconic ‘JSM’ in the name of its Asian business

Office Openings & Closings

Weightmans shuts down two offices in South East England, leaving only one City base

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