Sunday, 4 December 2011

Edmund Parker

"I never used to have much to do with my colleague Edmund Parker until 2008..."
This was David Allen's opening gambit at a meeting this week with Edmund and a BBC Business journalist, set up to take the broadcaster through the background on some derivatives cases coming up over the next weeks and months.  David is one of the global heads of litigation at Mayer Brown and Edmund global co-head of derivatives, but pre-2008 David says, he had more to do with his US and Asia litigation colleagues than the derivatives regulatory team working in the same office as him in London.

It all changed when the credit crunch hit.

"All of a sudden, on receiving our third or fourth derivatives litigation instruction in a row, we clocked the pattern developing. A lot of people's positions changed pretty much overnight and unexpectedly. So suddenly a hedging, options or futures deal done just months before started to look a lot less attractive. We were inundated with parties looking to see what they could do to set a transaction aside - or stop the other side from doing exactly that! It was at this point that Edmund and I started to get to know each other very well."

I've always liked this 'matrix' approach of Mayer Brown's - pulling together cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional teams in response to big global stories - a global business defaulting; a global bank in trouble. The firm set-up is designed specifically to field bespoke teams according to the needs of a particular task/job/case, eg bringing an in-depth understanding of complex financial instruments together with top-notch litigation expertise (this is the team that ran some of the first cases in the Supreme Court as it opened), and fielding regional experts in a particular jurisdiction as needed. But whereas some firms merely talk the talk - we all know how the wording goes on any big law firm website or credentials statement -  Mayer Brown really walk the walk.  The simple reason being that these guys have been working across their various offices around the globe for a very long time and cross-team working is part of the firm's cultural fabric - unlike some firms whose transatlantic or global capabilities have been forged much more recently. Remember, the Mayer Brown Rowe and Maw merger was a very long time ago back in the '90s. 

The collapse of Lehmans was a case in point. Mayer Brown pulled a rapid response team together in hours, working as one unit but covering three different jurisdictions - in New York, London and Hong Kong.

This is my favourite kind of PR job - a firm that has an excellent story to tell, but just needs a platform to tell it. No need for smoke and mirrors here. Mayer Brown are the real deal.

There but for the grace of God... I was lucky enough to be invited to National Brain Injury Charity Headway’s Annual Awards Luncheon, courtesy of Prolegal. As a member of the Brain Injury Group, an organisation that promotes the use of dedicated brain injury lawyers to handle personal injury claims involving head injuries, Prolegal supports Headway to help promote awareness of the reality of life after such catastrophic and complex injuries.

I read the booklet beforehand: awards would be given out for Volunteer of the Year, Campaigner of the Year, Achiever of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to Headway, as well as Carer of the Year. I was expecting to hear some moving stories. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that so many of the nominees and winners were individuals who had suffered brain injury themselves, and having been so brilliantly supported by Headway throughout their journey to recovery (or at least some semblance of a normal life), they wanted to give something back. This really stopped me in my tracks.

Well, I'm truly in the Christmas spirit now. Have to say, Covent Garden really knows how to do Christmas! This being our first Winter in our new neighbourhood, it has been such a welcome surprise to see how everyone in Seven Dials and Covent Garden more widely works together to get the area ready for Christmas. Almost makes up for the passing of the Summer and the fact that we can't use our wonderful roof garden at the moment! As many of you know already, I am the very proud owner of an I Love Covent Garden discount card. Back in November the organisers advertised a 20% discount day to take place on the 1st December - and I promptly booked the whole day off! So now I can smugly say most of my Christmas shopping has been done. But most fun of all, was just to enjoy the community spirit. How nice to work in a district in Central London with such a strong sense of community.

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