Wake Up Call: Reed Smith Converts to U.K. Legal Status Used by Big Four

Nov. 4, 2019, 12:54 PM
  • Reed Smith said it got a green light from the U.K. legal sector regulator to convert to an alternative business structure, known as the ABS. The firm says it’s the first international firm to make the move, which will allow it expand client services, attract a wider range of talent, and be more nimble. The ABS regime allows law firms to be managed and/or owned by non-lawyers, to provide services beyond traditional legal advice, and to take external investment. It was created by the U.K.'s Legal Services Act of 2007. The regime is what allowed Big Four accounting firms to start offering legal services in the U.K. (ReedSmith.com)

  • Although the ABS regime allows law firms to take outside investment, Reed Smith said it has no intention of going public. (LegalBusiness.com)

  • Reed Smith said the change will “future proof” its business. (The Lawyer)

  • Meanwhile, Brown Rudnick grabbed London-based restructuring lawyers Charlotte Møller and Monika Lorenzo-Perez from Reed Smith. Both join Brown Rudnick as partners. (BrownRudnick.com)

  • U.S. biopharmaceutical giant Amgen Inc., advised by Latham & Watkins, is buying a $2.7 billion stake in Chinese American drug developer BeiGene in a deal to develop and commercialize Amgen cancer drugs in China. (BN) BeiGene got advice on the deal from Goodwin Procter, Mintz Levin, and Skadden Arps. (IRBeigene.com)

  • Authentic Brands Group LLC, advised by DLA Piper, acquired the intellectual property of bankrupt retailer Barneys New York LLC in a $271 million deal. Authentic Brands plans to partner with retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, opening Barneys shops in about 40 Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Barneys has been getting restructuring advice from Kirkland & Ellis. (BN via BLAW)

  • Google’s $2.1 billion purchase of smartwatch maker Fitbit is already getting antitrust scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers concerned that it would mean two of the largest technology companies, Google and Apple Inc., dominate the U.S. market for fitness tracking devices. (BN) Cleary advised Google, which is also getting antitrust advice from Vinson & Elkins. Fenwick & West advised Fitbit. (BLAW via BLB)

  • The legal sector added 300 jobs from September to October after losing 900 jobs the month before, according to U.S. government data. (American Lawyer)

  • Close to two dozen U.K. law firms lost a combined amount of about $5.2 million (4 million pounds) to cyber criminals in the last three years, the country’s legal profession regulator said. (Legaltech News)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Pro Bono

  • Utah officials have hooked up with an independent legal research center to test regulations that would allow nonlawyers to provide legal services in the state. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Foley Hoag IP partner Barbara Fiacco, co-chair of the firm’s patent, trade secrets, and related rights litigation practice, was named president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association. Plus more personnel news from intellectual property law firms and IP-related organizations. (BLAW)

  • Michigan State University’s legal bill in the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal is $20 million and counting, and the school still has no general counsel. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Reynen Court, a legal technology platform backed by 18 law firms, has hired corporate law partner Martin Levenglick as chief legal officer and head of corporate development. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa, advised by Littler Mendelson, filed a lawsuit accusing ex-partner Lauren Drake of violating a non-compete agreement by jumping to a rival in Washington. A lawyer for Drake said she was partly motivated to leave by a “hostile, male dominated work environment.” (National Law Journal)


  • Several Big Law firms are advising on a project to build Nigeria’s first deep sea port, located in Lagos in the Lekki Free Trade Zone and expected to open in 2022. Allen & Overy, Linklaters, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, along with several Nigerian firms, are advising on various components of the project, which recently got a $629 million loan from the China Development Bank. (AfricanLawBusiness.org)

  • Cooley advised Chinese property tech company FangDD Network Group Ltd. on its $78 million initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. (Globenewswire.com)

  • Proskauer Rose represented Race Roster, a race registration platform for running events, on its recent acquisition by Japanese footwear and sportswear company ASICS Corporation. (RunningUSA.org)

Legal Actions, Decisions, Regulators

  • New York-based Kobre & Kim is suing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to force the federal agency to explain its decision to accept a gag provision in its $16 million settlement of market manipulation charges against major food companies. A Chicago judge recently voided that settlement. (National Law Journal)

  • Under Armour Inc. said it’s under federal investigation for its accounting practices. (BN)


  • New eDiscovery company Veristar plans to offer core services including forensic collection, data processing, document hosting, analytics and metrics, workflow review, and production, said its founder, president and CEO Rick Avers. (Legaltech News)

  • Law firms’ legal tech subsidiaries teaming up with law schools to develop pro bono tools are getting valuable product development and research information from the arrangement. (Legaltech News)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Molly Ward at mward@bloomberglaw.com

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