Today, Jeffrey Bronheim, managing partner of law firm Cohen & Gresser‘s London office, takes the notebook pen.
As an American who has built up a legal practice in London, I have seen differing views on what is dubbed the ‘revolving door’ between business and government on either side of the Atlantic.
In the UK, politicians and the media are often highly critical: people are accused of seeking to ‘cash in’ on knowledge and contacts they have built up while working for the state.
In the US, lawyers often switch between private practice and working in government. Many young lawyers start in the government and then move on to private firms later in their careers. Others may join government permanently or for a term after a successful private career.
Because government salaries are generally lower than private practice, working for the government is often about ‘giving back’, but it is also a good route to a better private job. Those who leave government are recognised as having done good service to the nation, and to have earned the right to a better-paying position.
Cohen & Gresser specialises in complex fraud cases, often involving large numbers of documents, and I am completely unembarrassed about the fact that I have looked to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for expertise.
The SFO’s former director, Sir David Green, is among those we have hired. John Gibson joined the SFO after years as a barrister, and has now returned to practice with us. Pere Puig Folch, the architect of the digital data review system at the SFO, oversees our use of data and AI in complex fraud cases.
The government should be proud that the people they attract and the training and experience they get are highly prized by other organisations.
It is time the UK adopted the US’s attitude to the ‘revolving door’ and welcomed it as an entirely good thing for both the public and private sectors.
Back to work?
In my office, we now recommend that people come in at least four days a week. Like many workplaces, Fridays can still be pretty quiet, particularly now the sun is shining. The old routine of heading off to the pub on Friday afternoons may be replaced with sitting in the garden all day.
At some point, firms and employees are going to have to re-examine how alternative working arrangements are operating. It’s time to get back to the office, for the benefit of young careers, as well as clients.
Trump and Johnson
Both have built up cults of personality and faced potentially career-ending crises in recent days. In the US, Donald Trump is facing legal charges for allegedly mishandling classified documents, while Boris Johnson has quit parliament after being found to have lied about lockdown parties. It is an interesting reflection of the different political and legal systems that the US issues are being dealt with by the courts, and the UK’s by Parliament. However each country does it, both the US and the UK are trying to maintain the rule of law and show that democracies can hold their leaders to account.
The government has just introduced strong new anti-protest laws. Before these were even in place, at the coronation the police rounded up potential protesters long before they could begin to protest about anything. Of course that was an over-reach, and the police apologised when releasing suspects who had done nothing wrong. We mustn’t forget peaceful protest is the mark of a functioning democracy and the UK has a great tradition of it.
Something in the air
I highly recommend the movie Air, about a story that transformed the world of sports marketing and product sponsorship. It offers fantastic insight into how businesses really operate: how different personalities, goals, pressures, ideas, insights, disputes and risks permeate the corporate environment, and – in particular – how really big deals get to be done.
It’s particularly informative for anybody working on complex negotiations with clients. Often you will find you are not just dealing with one person, but families, friends and competitors working behind the scenes – each with complex and possibly contradictory motivations. Matt Damon’s character goes all in for what he believes in, and somehow drags the entire organisation with him to an amazing result. He seals the deal with intensity, determination, guile and courage, often ignoring the rules and the corporate culture.