Interesting, but hardly surprising, to note that the winners of last month’s DLA Piper 'Journalist Awards' have all contributed favourable pieces of editorial about the firm to their respective publications.
Meanwhile, Legal Week’s Alex Novarese, winner of DLA’s 'Legal Journalist of the Year', hosted this cosy interview – produced in a charming 1970s style – with Sir Nige and the firm's global co-chairman Tony Angel.
Correction 11.45am 30/5/12: In its original form, this post stated that RollOnFriday had "maintained that [Ashurst partner Piers] Warburton had no editorial involvement in the Friday story round-up" until it "came clean" and admitted otherwise last week. This was incorrect: RollOnFriday has never sought to publicly hide Warburton’s editorial role, nor has it sought to publicly play down its association with Ashurst.
The error stems from a mistake made by Legal Week in its article, 'Friday's children - how RollOnFriday got kinda respectable' (24 February 2012), where it incorrectly stated that Warburton’s role at RollOnFriday was "purely on the business development side". Yesterday afternoon, Legal Week recognised this error by removing the word 'purely' from its article. No correction has yet been issued by Legal Week. We look forward to featuring the Legal Week correction as soon as it is issued.
RollOnFriday, the website that offers a jovial Friday round-up of corporate legal news, has famously close ties with the City law firm Ashurst. The site's manager, Matt Rhodes OBE, used to work for the firm, and Piers Warburton, who runs RollOnFriday with Rhodes, remains an equity partner at Ashurst.
As recently as February, Legal Week maintained that Warburton had no editorial involvement in the Friday story round-up.
According to the Legal Weekprofile interview of RollOnFriday (£), 'Friday's children - how RollOnFriday got kinda respectable' (24 February 2012), Warburton acts "purely on the business development side for [RollOnFriday], with Rhodes left to make the editorial and operational decisions."
On Monday, Lucy Reed, a barrister at St John’s Chambers in Bristol, was surprised to read in The Times that she was acting in a complex international dynastic "feud" with Cherie Blair – and had been appointed a QC.
Immediately Reed (pictured) took to her blog, pinktape.co.uk, writing:
"Anyone got ANY idea who they have mistaken me for?? I can’t work it out!! (one other Lucy Reed is an arbitrator but neither British nor a QC, the other other one is dead). What ever the answer is it’s a surprise to find such an epic gaff in The Times."
She then penned a letter (see below) to The Times outlining her complaint, before taking to Twitter to publicly drive the message home to the newspaper, via messages to its @TheTimes Twitter account...
RollOnFriday’s story about newly appointed silk David Wolfe QC (pictured) signing a letter in 2003 calling for the QC system to be abolished was a good one. But it didn’t feel quite right.
Having described the system as “elitist” and “an opportunity to add another zero to your brief fee”, RollOnFriday – which is 50% owned by Piers Warburton, an equity partner at City law firm Ashurst – extracted this pledge from Wolfe, who specialises in publicly funded work: “I will not be putting my fees up as a result of it,” the barrister told the site. RollOnFriday's City boy readers predictably showed no mercy on Wolfe in the comment section of the article.
"Radical; vegetarian; socialist. These three words are rarely used in conjunction with lawyers, but these are the three that encapsulate Michael Mansfield QC," begins last week's Oxford University student newspaper profile of well-known human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield (pictured left).
"In a mystifying world, brim-full of traditions, wigs, and lots of Latin," it continues, "you can imagine the excitement I felt when I was told that I would be having dinner with a Queen’s Counsel. And not just any QC, but the Johnny Depp (pictured right) of the legal world."
Michael Mansfield: the Johnny Depp of the legal world? Really?
As the slashing of the legal aid budget nears, it has become common to hear City law firms talked up as white knights ready to ride to the rescue of those no longer able to secure funding to take their problems to court. The trouble is, the amount of hours these firms devote to their pro bono programmes keeps falling.
A City lawyer reflects on the legal aid cuts
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the latest to announce a decline, with its freshly released 2010-11 corporate social responsibility (CSR) report revealing that pro bono and volunteering activities are down by 11% across the firm. It gets worse, much worse...
Yesterday a press release from the College of Law appeared in my inbox, headed COLLEGE OF LAW LAUNCHES SCHOLARSHIPS FOR BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) STUDENTS.
An hour or so later I noticed Lawyer2B had published it as a news story. Now, usually when journalists write on-diary news they tone down the frequently hyperbolic tone of press releases. But in this instance, conscious that the story wasn’t all that exciting perhaps, Lawyer2B hyped it up.
The first line read: “The College of Law (CoL) has thrown a vital life-line to would-be barristers after launching two new dedicated scholarships.”
I’m always surprised by how uncritically lawyers read what’s written in the legal press. Many don’t realise that each magazine has a commercial agenda that strongly influences how it writes - and what it writes about.
Last week, the City law firm Linklaters released a load of information about itself – from financial data, to figures about how many corporate social responsibility (CSR) hours its lawyers do. The way the two main legal mags, The Lawyer and Legal Week, reported this information revealed a lot about each of them.
Legal Week kicked things off on Tuesday with a story about Linklaters’ CSR report, headlined: ‘Linklaters CSR report shows £8m investment in charity and pro bono’. This was striking, because easily the most newsworthy element of Linklaters' CSR report was the dramatic 31.5% fall in the amount of time its staff spent volunteering, with total CSR hours dropping from 63,750 to 43,660 (something which Legal Week did mention, but as a secondary piece of information). At a time of ongoing negotiations about historic cuts to the legal aid budget, as part of which doubts about the private sector’s reliability as a source of pro bono assistance are a key factor, Legal Week's decision to present the story the way it did shows how reluctant it has become to aggravate law firms.
Follow @AlexAldridgeUK Continuing snobbery towards legal blogging betrays journalists' fear that evolving medium could do them out of a job, says Alex Aldridge
Not so long ago, the Times’ weekly law section was the place to read about law. Published on Tuesday, rather than Thursday as it has been for the last few years, it often ran to five or six pages, and was supplemented by a vibrant (and free) Times Online law page. As a law student between 2004-2006, this was where I – and thousands of other students like me – got our legal news and commentary from.
Over the last few years, though, things have changed dramatically. The Times lost interest in its online law section around the time of the Lehman Brothers collpase.
On Friday, I was shopping online for flights to Marrakesh for my holidays. But try as I might, I just couldn’t find the flight booking menu on the easyJet website. Then I realised I wasn’t on easyJet.com at all. Instead, I’d navigated in error to the remarkably similar-looking RollOnFriday.com.