ABS stands for ‘alternative business structure’ and put simply allows non-lawyers to have a financial stake in a law firm.
Abort fee is the amount billed to a client when a deal, on which the lawyer is advising, fails to complete.
ADR stands for ‘alternative dispute resolution’. It is used as a way to resolve a dispute without going to court. Arbitration (see below) and mediation (see column 3) are examples of this.
Advisory lawyers provide clients with expertise on particular aspects of the law, such as tax planning, and make recommendations as to the action they should take in given situations.
Appraisal is a periodic assessment of a trainee or associate solicitor’s performance and progression. Trainee solicitors typically have a mid-seat and end of seat appraisal.
Arbitration is a method used to resolve a dispute without going to court: A third party (the arbitrator) looks at both sides of the dispute and makes a decision as to how it should be resolved; those involved may agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.
Assistant solicitor is the next stage on the career ladder after you complete your two year period of qualifying work experience.
Associate solicitor is an alternative title to assistant solicitor.
B2B stands for ‘business-to-business’
B2C stands for ‘business to consumer’
Beauty parade is a colloquial term for an invitation to tender where a client invites a number of competing law firms to pitch for legal work. The successful firms are invited to join the client’s panel of legal advisers.
Bibling involves putting together a set of all the relevant documents relating to a deal. Predictably, the end product is known as a bible.
Billable hours is the time spent working on a project that can be charged to the client, according to an agreed hourly rate. Non-billable on the other hand, includes time spent on activities that benefit a law firm at large, including business development and pro bono.
Boutique or niche firms are small outfits that specialise in one or limited areas of law such a litigation.
Brief to counsel is a summary prepared by a solicitor for a barrister, containing all of the information and documents relevant to the presentation of a case in court.
Buy-side as the name suggests involves advising the purchaser(s) on an M&A deal. The opposite to this is sell-side.
Capacity refers to a trainee, assistant or associate solicitor’s ability to take on more work from a client and/or colleagues before they reach 100 per cent utilisation.
Chargeable hours is the time spent on a piece of work and includes billable hours (this is the time that can be billed to a client) and non-billable hours (this is the time spent non-client work) including business development, CSR, and training etc.
The City of London (also known as the Square Mile) is the UK’s financial district.
Close of business / play or COB/COP refers to the end of a business day.
Conditional fee arrangement, also called ‘no win no fee’, is an arrangement whereby a solicitor acting on a claim agrees only to be paid a fee in the event it is successful. Such a payment is typically made by the losing party.
Contentious is a situation involving a dispute between clients.
Corporate finance is an area of law that relates to the various ways corporations raise funds, including IPOs (see middle column) and bond issues, to grow or strengthen their existing business, or realise new opportunities.
Counsel is an alternative phrase for describing a barrister. It is also commonly used as a job title for an in-house solicitor. For example, general counsel are typically the most senior in-house lawyers in an organisation whilst those in the lower ranks are referred to as legal counsel or junior counsel.
CSR stands for ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ and is the practice of businesses, including law firms, taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on society. On the ground CSR activities might include a firm’s lawyers helping school children at a local school with literacy support or volunteering at a soup kitchen.
Disbursement are fees that are paid to law firms as required as part of legal services. For example, this could be a payment made by lawyers for a local authority search in relation to the purchase of a property.
Disclosure involves making relevant documentation available to the other parties in a dispute.
Dispute resolution involves advising conflicting parties to reach an agreement. It encompasses litigation and various alternative methods, such as mediation, negotiation and arbitration (see above).
Due diligence or DD is a process, typically handled by trainee solicitors and junior lawyers, that involves thoroughly reviewing legal and commercial documents such as supplier agreements, IT contracts, employment contracts etc, to determine the health of a business that is up for sale. The findings will then be used by the purchaser to determine whether they should walk away, negotiate a price drop or ask for certain guarantees.
Eat what you kill describes a compensation system (especially in a law firm) where the pay received by partners is based on how much business they personally bring to the firm. In a pure eat-what-you-kill system, each partner takes home only what he /she generates in income.
Equity partner is the co-owner of a law firm. He or she is rewarded by receiving a share of the firm’s annual profit.
ESG stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’ and are the three core elements of a responsible law firm’s sustainability strategy.