Morning Briefing: Corporates putting the squeeze on first-year lawyers

Law firms cutting back on hiring junior lawyers over cost-conscious clients… Report highlights innovation – and automation… Bird & Bird appoints new head of employment practice in China… Law firms recognised for commitment to work-life balance…

Corporates put the squeeze on first-year lawyers
As clients seek to reduce their use of law firms it is first-year associates who are feeling the squeeze. A report on US law firms shows that cost-conscious corporates are demanding that work is done by partners or more senior associates. With a general increase in the amount of legal work being done in-house the trend is for using more experienced third-party lawyers but for lesser amounts of time. The shift has led to some law firms cutting back on their hiring of junior lawyers.
FT report highlights innovation – and automation!
The Financial Times has ranked Allen & Overy as the most innovative law firm in its annual FT Innovative Lawyers report. It has received the accolade for demonstrating a willingness to offer a number of delivery models and options including online and contract lawyers. The FT says that many law firms are still using the ‘premium work at premium prices’ model but those that innovate see the way that clients are moving. The report also highlights the use of technology to speed up processes, especially within in-house teams. It highlights a tool from Hewlett-Packard that draws on years of lawyer experience to make an automated assessment of acquisitions. HP’s M&A counsel Sergio Letelier predicts it will result in law firms getting fewer mandates.
Bird & Bird appoints new head of employment in China
Ying Wang has been appointed as a partner at Bird & Bird in Shanghai and will head its employment practice in China. Wang has experience across the full range of employment issues and has advised many multinational and Fortune 500 companies. Justin Walkley, chair of the firm’s Asia-Pacific region, says Wang’s appointment coincides with a period of growth for Bird & Bird in the region and will enable them to provide an enhanced service to clients.
Law firms recognised for commitment to work-life balance
Some of the biggest names in the legal profession have been recognised for helping staff to achieve a healthy balance between work and home responsibilities. Baker & McKenzie, DWF, Hogan Lovells, Olswang and Simmons & Simmons were all named among Top Employers for Working Families. The annual list is compiled by UK-based charity Working Families.

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