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Interview Series

Adam Rose

Mishcon de Reya, United Kingdom

04 Apr 2024

The biggest recent project that we have been working on has allowed us to engage some 30 Legalink member firms for one of our large US-based multinational clients

Can you provide insight into the historical journey and founding principles that underpin Mishcon de Reya?

Mishcon was founded in the 1930s by Victor (later Lord) Mishcon. The firm has always been a commercial law firm, now with some 650 lawyers, but often (but not only) focussed on disputes and private clients (individuals, families and privately owned businesses). Most recently, the firm merged with Taylor Vinters, bringing enhanced expertise in technology, life sciences and VC funding.

Could you provide an overview of the primary practice areas and specialized domains that Mishcon de Reya presently focuses on?

As a law firm, Mishcon is grouped into departments working on dispute resolution, employment (labour), corporate and technology (under the Mishcon Future banner), private, real estate and 'purpose', with offices in London, Oxford and Cambridge, and Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as an announced opening in Saudi Arabia. As well as the law practices, the business has expanded to a wider group of adjacent businesses under the MDR Group, covering brand management, cyber, discovery services, private wealth support (MDR Mayfair), an incubator/accelerator for legal tech (MDR LAB), an employment law platform (MDR ONE) and a technology consultancy (MDRx).

The firm has been involved in numerous high-profile cases and transactions over the years. Can you highlight a recent case or project that you believe best showcases Mishcon de Reya's strengths and the value it brings to its clients?

One of the biggest cases we ran recently was for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where our client was successful in challenging the colossal $11 billion arbitration award made against it. Judge Mr Justice Knowles CBE ruled that the original arbitral award had been obtained by the claimant, P&ID, "only by practising the most severe abuses of the arbitral process", and was to be set aside, and he refused P&ID permission to appeal. With no further recourse available to P&ID, this decision finally brings an end to over a decade of legal action. One of the themes that Mishcon always seeks to live up to is to be determined and resolute in fighting for its clients – as a spokesperson for the Republic said: "This result could not have been achieved without the tenacity and tireless efforts of the legal team who have persistently worked to obtain this outcome on behalf of Nigeria." Our focus is simple: to deliver the highest quality legal services and fiercely guard our clients' interests.

In the context of Legalink, could you develop upon the significance of personal connections and the valuable friendships cultivated by Mishcon de Reya’s partners and associates through participation in sectorial practice group meetings and conferences?

Getting to know people from firms around the world is key to our ability to support our clients; the personal connections that I make through Legalink – at conferences, regional and sectoral meetings – all play a valuable part in that.  It means that I can pick up the phone or send a message to someone I actually know, and rely on them to tell me that their firm can (or cannot) help with a particular matter.  Without that personal connection, I might as well just use the various international directories, and hope to hit lucky.

Reflecting on your firm's affiliation with Legalink, what benefits does the firm derive from this global legal network, and how does it enhance your ability to serve clients?

Mishcon uses the Legalink network to place work and, indirectly, to be referred to firms in countries where the network lacks a member firm, and we, as a firm, do not have a strong connection. As the go-to partner at Mishcon when colleagues have work to refer out internationally, I am able, through Legalink, to refer my colleagues regularly to network firms. Being well networked means that we can compete effectively – and efficiently – with the multinational firms.

Could you share some insights into the firm's expansion plans, both in terms of practice areas and geographic reach? How do you see Mishcon de Reya positioning itself for growth and innovation in the legal market?

Mishcon has grown significantly over the past 10 or so years, both by adding new areas of expertise and by strengthening its teams. In January 2023, Mishcon merged with Taylor Vinters, a smaller firm specialising in technology, life sciences and venture capital and early stage companies. With teams in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Singapore and at Karas So LLP in Hong Kong, Mishcon is experienced in managing cross-jurisdictional transactions, disputes, and arrangements on behalf of businesses and individuals. For businesses, we provide a wide variety of legal services and act as an extension of our clients' internal management teams. For individuals, we work alongside overseas professionals to manage the wealth and reputation of their businesses, families, and themselves. This can be the case even where there is no UK law involved. Our branch office in Singapore is culturally and operationally an extension of our London office. Opened in 2020, it brings the Firm's tenacious advocacy and entrepreneurial spirit to South East Asia. In Hong Kong, we have an association with Karas So LLP – with a premier reputation in the core areas of commercial litigation, international arbitration, regulatory investigations and insolvency & asset recovery. In addition to our presence in Asia, we have expertise in multiple regions, including the Middle East, Africa, Israel, India and the US. We have desks dedicated to France and Iberia/Latin America. Our international links are vast and varied - we identify like-minded law firms to work alongside around the world and build strong partnerships.

Innovation is key to our legal services – and to our growth beyond legal services. Our commitment to providing the highest quality legal services is central to our business. However, as the world changes rapidly around us, our clients' needs become ever more complex. They require more from us. Each of the services offered by the Mishcon de Reya Group has a strong connection to the business of law and is complementary to our core areas of work. They are led by best in class professionals recruited from a variety of non-legal industries and sectors. By harnessing this expertise we enable our clients to best meet the complex challenges and shape the exciting opportunities they and their businesses face. Currently, our Group businesses are: MDR Cyber (a cyber security and investigations practice); MDR Discover (an experienced team of qualified eDiscovery experts who use predictive coding to ensure that most document review exercises are not only faster but, critically, more accurate than human-driven review, and is generally more cost-effective); MDR Mayfair (with offices in London, Singapore and Dubai, MDR Mayfair offers advice, structure and strategies, simplify the way families' affairs are handled, safeguard family members and protect their assets for the long-term); MDR LAB (MDR Lab incubates and invests in the most promising early stage legaltech companies); MDR ONE (MDR ONE provides centralised global employment law support and data-led insights to multinational companies, putting in-house counsel in control of their global legal operations); and MDRx (which exists to harness the latest emerging technologies in a safe, secure and legally compliant way).

In your capacity as one of the partners representing Legalink within your firm, how do you ensure that all members of Mishcon de Reya fully comprehend and leverage the advantages stemming from being part of a global network like Legalink?

I spend a lot of time every day promoting our international connectivity internally! We have a map of the world on our intranet, which allows anyone in the firm to click on any country and see which firms we know and who the key contact at that firm is (and who our key internal contact is) – that map includes all Legalink member firms. The biggest recent project that we have been working on has allowed us to engage some 30 Legalink member firms for one of our large US-based multinational clients; being part of a network where we actually know who we are dealing with has made the process very smooth.

Mishcon de Reya is known for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. How does the firm foster an inclusive work environment, and what initiatives or programs have been particularly successful in promoting diversity within the organization and the legal profession as a whole?

We have always embraced our role in public life and supported causes and campaigns driven by our people. From founding partner Lord Mishcon's role on the Wolfenden Committee in the 1950s which led to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, to our pro bono work fighting equal pay claims for women in broadcasting since 2018, championing diversity and inclusion is part of the firm's essence. Currently, we (one of my partners, Katy Colton, and I) are acting for the families of British hostages being held in Gaza and for the British hostages. And these are all true to our core values.
That said, it is not enough to lean on past successes. We need to ensure that these values also drive our business internally. We have long been focussed on achieving greater equality at every level in our business, but there is more for us to do. By critically assessing the initiatives we have in place, never being satisfied when the pace of change is too slow and holding ourselves accountable every day we can and will make change happen.

Are there any new developments at Mishcon de Reya that you want our Legalink members to know about?

Every day brings new developments at Mishcon!  We recently announced that we are opening an office in Saudi Arabia, where we already act for many clients on their legal needs, especially in England, and under English law. Our Hong Kong office has recently been joined by two partners who specialise in US tax and wealth planning for high net worth private clients, including cross border trust and estate planning involving US beneficiaries, trusts created by US tax residents and wealth planning structures with US persons as fiduciaries. On the technology front, we recently entered into a commercial relationship with Ayora, a London-based startup that provides an AI assistant that helps our lawyers make faster and better revenue decisions for matters. Our Academy, our centre for learning, offers a range of programmes which are available to everyone – inside and outside of the firm – to sign up to, most of which are available to access online, either in real-time or on catch-up later.