Following this week's news of tough conditions being imposed on Cobbetts partners by acquiring firm DWF, former Halliwells rookie Marc Piano draws on his experience to predict what lies ahead for the stricken firm's trainees...
Marc Piano says Halliwells' collapse contributed to his decision to pursue some time out practising Buddhism in South East Asian monasteries.
When it became clear that Halliwells’ insurance litigation team intended to transfer to Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG), I drafted up a business case (read: begging letter) for them to take me with them and gave it to my former supervisor. If I was going anywhere, I wanted to go with my colleagues from the team I had spent most time in.
At that point, the position of trainees – and everybody else – was far from clear. Indeed, the situation seemed to change daily. I wasn’t sure what, if anything, was being done about the trainees; communications were sketchy to non-existent from the top at first, rumours abounded and I wasn’t prepared to wait and assume all would come out OK in the end.
Since I was in a corporate seat at the time – equity partner heavy with an excellent department manager – we were kept very well-informed as the carve-up of the firm’s practice areas began to take shape. Sheffield and Liverpool offices were going to Hill Dickinson. Manchester insurance litigation was going to BLG. London and Manchester commercial were going to...nobody was quite sure yet.
Solicitor Jonathan Lea makes the short trip up from Bargate Murray HQ at Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout (pictured below) to Legal Cheek’s Dalston studios. There, he is greeted by a deeply-tanned Kevin Poulter (freshly back from his hols in California) and the distressingly pale Alex Aldridge (who hasn't been on holiday since 1997).
In the last six years, Lea, who started out at Clyde & Co, has worked at a variety of law firms and done a spell as a freelance lawyer and social media consultant before arriving at Bargate Murray, which does a lot of work advising tech start-ups. He reckons lawyers these days need to be flexible and willing to "hustle" if they’re going survive in an often cut-throat market.
During a brief spell working as a paralegal at Clyde & Co in 2006, I routinely billed the firm’s clients for the many hours I spent playing the game 'Snake' on my phone. No one seemed to notice.
Certainly, I never felt any urgency to get my work done quickly. Why would I? I was being billed out to clients at £100 an hour – the standard rate for a paralegal – and the more time I spent doing stuff, the more money the firm made. Looking back, it was easily the most inefficient work environment I’ve ever experienced. I dread to think what law firms are like now that there is Twitter...