Morning Briefing: Are law firms’ clients suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome'?

Law consultant paints a picture of abusive law firms and their ‘Stockholm syndrome’ clients…. HSF advise on what could be the biggest office deal of the year… Reed Smith partners approve new management team… Simmons & Simmons gain new ground in Saudi … and reform of hourly rates suffers a setback in the UK….

Are law firms’ clients suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome?’
While accepting that change in the legal profession is happening, many law firms are changing at a very slow pace. Paul Gilbert of consultancy LBC Wise Counsel says that this could be down to “a kind of Stockholm syndrome that plays out between law firms and their hostage clients". Gilbert says that most law firms are resistant to change and are good at seducing clients into believing that the relationship is a good one when actually it is more like one of abuser and abused. In dealings with general counsel he says that “in-house teams have weaknesses disguised by their 'friends' in law firms who will provide all the fixes they need, just at a price". In conclusion he asks how change will come about if law firms aren’t willing and clients won’t push for it. The answer, Gilbert suggests, is that some firms will break ranks or newcomers will offer a new choice, while GCs will seek support from other sources.
 
Herbert Smith Freehills advise on commercial office deal of the year
Herbert Smith Freehills has advised QIC on the sale of one of its flagship commercial office buildings in Sydney for A$555 million. In what is widely tipped to be the largest Australian commercial office deal of the year, the sale attracted extraordinary interest both nationally and internationally, with more than 40 qualified bidders. The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by Brisbane partner Kerry Heilbronn and executive counsel Leone Costigan.  
 
Reed Smith partners approve new management team
Reed Smith has announced that its partnership has approved the senior management team and firm secretary recommendations of its global managing partner Sandy Thomas. In addition to Thomas, the seven-member team includes three new members: Edward Estrada (strategy), Casey Ryan (legal personnel) and Ray Cardozo (litigation). Returning members are David Boutcher (business & finance) Roger Parker (EMEA) and Gary Sokulski (COO). All members will take up their new roles from next year.
 
Simmons & Simmons gains new ground in Saudi
Simmons & Simmons will enjoy an increased presence in Saudi Arabia as its alliance partner opens a new office in the Kingdom’s capital. Hammad & Al-Mehdar has been working with S&S since 2011, from its Jeddah base, but the new office in Riyadh will enable the firms to better serve clients in the capital and main financial base in Saudi. The office will officially open, subject to regulatory approval, in October.
 
Hourly rates reform suffers major setback
A proposal to reform the hourly rates for civil cases in the UK has been officially dismissed by the master of the rolls. Lord Dyson said in his response to the recommendations by the committee of the Civil Justice Council, that he could not accept the change in rates and that the 2010 rates would remain in place for now. The rates are used as a basis for calculating costs, saving time and negotiation between the two sides in litigation. The proposed change, while meaning a drop of 5% on average, would have seen some lawyers rates increase while others, especially paralegals being hit with cuts of up to 36%.
 

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