Snowman theft armless say police

By | 7th December 2010

One of the best loved stories of recent years is Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman with its music by Howard Blake. In case you are not familiar with the story (and surely everyone has heard the main theme tune Walking in the Air) it concerns a little boy who makes a snowman one day. Unable to sleep he decides to check on the snowman in the night and finds it has come to life. They have a number of adventures together before returning to the garden of the house where the boy lives.

We have all had to get used to a snowy theme in the past week or so. Tales abound of difficulties encountered by this person and that but I wonder if you heard the story of the woman who dialled 999 and explained to the switchboard operator that her snowman had gone missing?

“I went out to have a fag,” she said, “and he’s gone.”

After the police had spoken to her sternly about the real purpose of emergency calls she told them that she thought it was an emergency because his eyes were pound coins and his arms teaspoons! They must have been very small arms if they were represented by teaspoons and if you don’t believe me, read the story on the BBC News website:  Woman dials 999 to report snowman theft in Kent.

Sometimes it is hard to credit what you see and hear but I find it hard to believe how cross some people appear to be about the story that one of our largest and well known law firms has opened up an office in Belfast.

Herbert Smith has taken the unusual step (for a large City of London firm) of opening an office in Northern Ireland to handle document review for their litigation clients. Judging by some of the reaction you would think they had proposed opening an office in Lapland to handle enquiries about the possibility of viniculture in the region!

Reaction has not been universally positive. “An awful idea” said one commentator providing a flavour of the criticism. “Don’t they know that Belfast lawyers are only qualified in Northern Irish law?”

Not all the reactions were critical of course and as someone pointed out it will be a boost to the local economy. For myself, I am by no means sure that this idea is a bad one. After all, Herbert Smith did not get where they are today by taking ill thought out and generally poor decisions about its practice. And what is more, I recall many commentators urging law firms to start offering innovative solutions to their clients and to try delivering legal services in a more cost effective way. As soon as one firm tries it, the idea comes in for a barrage of criticism!

It seems to me that provided Herbert Smith takes responsibility for the work carried out in its Belfast enclave the clients are better off because the work done will carry the Herbies’ stamp and the cost should be significantly less.

Further it seems to me that this is all of a piece with the changes taking place in this area. Consider the recent acquisition of Pangea3, one of the leading LPO operations by Thomson Reuters or CMS Cameron McKenna’s huge outsourcing deal with Integreon and Rio Tinto’s outsourcing of a large chunk of their legal work and ultimately their GC Leah Cooper to CPA Global. There is more: deals such as Berwin Leighton Paisner’s deal with Thames Water and Freshfields’ outsourcing work to Mills & Reeve.

Readers will by now have seen the formal announcement of our own Smart Insourcing service. I firmly believe that there is merit in this approach just as there is in the approach adopted by Herbies. Ultimately the clients will decide if they like it or not but in the meantime we will concentrate on delivering an excellent service of eg document review and look forward to competing with the offering by Herbies or anyone else!

It will take more than a cold snap (or ill informed criticism) to put us off. As the woman who lost her snowman said:

“It ain’t a nice road but you don’t expect someone to nick your snowman.”

The main suspect, we feel, has probably melted away by now.