Change is happening faster than you think – the most valuable currency is keeping pace

One of the risks you run of pulling together a quarterly publication like The In-House Lawyer is that, by the time we go to press, some of the content that was completely current at the time of writing may be a little out of date by press time, only a few weeks later.

Thankfully, up until recently that worry has largely been no more than the stuff of journalistic nightmare during press week – things don’t change that quickly after all, do they?

Then, in just a few short weeks, unfurled a series of unfortunate events that saw Liz Truss elected to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister on 5 September, a so-called ‘mini-budget’ put forward by the short-lived chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng that sent the UK economy into turmoil, an eventual embarrassing U-turn, much inter-governmental finger pointing and throwing under the bus, Truss’ resignation and Rishi Sunak’s election as PM. All in the space of less than two months.

Cue frantic ‘Ctrl+F Truss’ action on the IHL news desk and a spiked feature on tax implications of the new government plans that became irrelevant overnight amid the volte-face.

In this autumn issue of IHL, change, and the ability to adapt quickly to it, emerges as a central theme throughout. Our recent trip to Dublin to host a panel discussion with Addleshaw Goddard on the strategic role of in-house counsel found a community that is no stranger to its share of transformation. Whether they are legislative changes that take hold quickly, or the overhaul in working practices that now allows people to work wherever in the world, changes in client demand or developments in organisational structures, the debate shows that a fast-moving market is right up there on the lists of challenges and opportunities for GCs and private practitioners alike.

In this issue we have our regular profiles, featuring Claire Holdsworth, the charismatic GC of Marathon Asset Management, discussing her irregular route into law, and Nassib Abou-Khalil who – as if to prove the point on the transience of things – has ceased to be Nokia’s chief legal officer since being interviewed for the piece.

Elsewhere, we have for the first time included excerpts from our sister publication Legal Business’ LB100 report, charting the financial performance of the UK’s top law firms by revenue and the threats and upsides firm leaders can expect as geopolitical risks continue to play out on the global stage.

We started canvassing firms back in 1992, so the LB100 report has been a pillar of Legal Business for the last 30 years as the industry evolved and became more sophisticated as a business rather than just a profession. I hope you will find it an interesting and valuable analysis that provides a fresh perspective on the world of City players operating in a familiarly tumultuous market.

It seems inevitable that the legal industry will feel the squeeze much more as we head into winter and we experience a destabilised economy that is shifting shape on a virtually daily basis. Now it’s about enduring through these reversals, for which new levels of adaptability will be required. The most important asset will be staying relevant, whatever happens.