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Thanks 2023! A year of legal sector stories in review…

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my lawyer sent to me –

12 cyber attacks,

11 SRA rulings,

10 hybrid workers,

9 increased NQ salaries,

8 investment funds,

7 toxic workplaces,

6 partner promotions,

5 firms merging,

4 AI advancements,

3 collapsed firms

2 MP resignations,

And a mighty colossal fraud offence

Merry Christmas! We’ve got a special Christmas edition of Si’s Matters for you this week, starting with a round-up of the legal news that made its mark on the legal sector each month this year and how we covered them.

A year in review: The stand-out stories from the legal landscape in 2023

January

ChatGPT has taken over the digital world, and the legal one is no different. January saw the artificial intelligence tool infiltrate the legal industry, and sit the American Bar exam – and the formidable power of AI technology is only on the rise for 2024.

Read the ChatGPT story here.

February

The Big Four accountancy firms (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young) went on a rigorous recruitment drive, poaching talent from top legal firms in a bid to grow further in the UK legal sector. Read how it transpired here.

March

Tech start up funder Silicon Valley Bank was declared defunct in March after a bank run, and its UK arm, Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited, was snapped up by HSBC for a nominal £1. How far this mattered to those working for start ups only became apparent after its demise.

Read the original article about the collapse here.

April

In probably the most infamous piece of news in the legal world this year, April saw the collapse of the Ince Group. Since then, we’ve witnessed a chain reaction, from the buyout by Axiom DWFM, to the missing £64m of client money, to the suspiciously delayed SRA investigations.

Take a look at how it all started in this edition.

May

The initial proposition, of what prevailed to be the mother of all mergers, was announced in May: Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling joined forces, forming megafirm A&O Shearman – portended by A&O’s failed dalliances with O’Melveny and Shearman’s with Hogan Lovells previously.

You can familiarise yourself with the ghost of mergers past here.

June

We ran a special feature in June, which unveiled views and opinions from the industry insiders themselves about the hybrid working debate. This storyis definitely worth a read, with voices from cross-sections of both the legal and marketing industries giving invaluable insight.

July

July was dominated by the financial results season. Allen & Overy saw a revenue increase of 76.6% from 2013, and Eversheds pay per equity partner (PEP) more than doubled to £1.29m.

Read about how other top firms performed compared to a decade ago here.

August

Slater & Gordon experienced a turnaround in fortunes in August, as it helped attain justice for bereaved families affected by the case of the prolific serial killer Lucy Letby, and also successfully secured £33m from litigation funder Harbour.

Read more about Slater & Gordon’s prosperous month here.

September

September was a special month for TBD. We were mentionedin none other than The Lawyer itself, as we showcased the wonderfully talented people using LinkedIn for the greater good of our legal community.

Take a look at our debut top LinkedIn Legal Influencers report here.

October

Inflexion completed its take-private of global legal business firm DWF, via its buyout fund VI. We touched on the deal in this editionin September, which was finalised the following month.

November

Pogust Goodhead has gone from strength to strength this year, securing a record-breaking £464 million investment deal in November. That’s more money than Simmons & Simmons’ annual revenue.

Find out more in this edition.

December

Dentons CEO Elliot Portnoy announced he will be passing on the baton and leaving the firm next year, describing law firm leadership as “feeling like dog years” in terms of measurement. How will his successor fare? It’s only the position of CEO of the world’s largest law firm we’re talking about, so no pressure.

Read more about Elliot’s orderly and judicious departure plans here.

In other news

Austerity measures

City firm Fladgate has proposed a cost-saving scheme offering its real estate lawyers the option to work a four-day week with reduced pay from January to March next year, due to the slowdown of the property market.

Similarly, Slaughter and May has also announced that they’ll be introducing a scheme which will give its lawyers the option to work shorter hours for less money, after a successful trial period in 2021.

Read more about Fladgate’s plans here.

ESG: the festive edition

In the wonderful world of law firms, the Christmas tree is no longer simply a symbol of joy, hope and new life, but has instead become a reflection of a firm’s commitment to sustainability, particularly in addressing scope three emissions.

Supporters of real Christmas tree plantations contend that opting for them enhances biodiversity, while plastic trees have their own merits, including advantages such as reusability, longevity, and cost savings.

Read the full story with more details on the sustainability of real Christmas trees here.

The Weiss family is expanding – at a rate of knots

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has continued its successful raid on the City of London, with the newest hires being two senior partners from the Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance.

Chris Sullivan and Taner Hassan are the latest additions to Paul Weiss’ London team as part of the firm’s growth strategy to establish a dominant presence in the City. As mentioned previously in Si’s Matters, this is another high-profile hiring spree following the successful poaching of a total of 14 Kirkland and Ellis partners.

Read comments about the lightning-fast City expansion from Paul Weiss’ global M&A co-chair and London co-head Roger Johnson here.

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