Paper triumph for Lord Irvine

People and Business
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TO THE Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane to witness the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, receive the "Personality of the Year" award.

Over 1,000 lawyers (a disturbing sight) attended the sumptuous banquet last Thursday to celebrate the fourth annual Lawyer/Hifal legal awards, sponsored jointly by The Lawyer magazine and the independent financial advisers' arm of the Halifax.

After a breathless introduction by TV personality Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Irvine gamely thanked the British media for raising his profile. He added that he was particularly grateful for the votes of lawyers called "Pugin", "Wolsey" and "Wallpaper".

Perhaps The Lawyer should introduce a new category next year: "Decorator of the Year".

SHELL, the global oil behemoth, is on the brink of one of those corporate makeovers so beloved of polo-necked design gurus in Soho lofts.

According to my spies, Shell's main aim is to soften the "harsh" yellow used on its shell-shaped logo, and to introduce instead a mellower yellow, redolent of friendliness to the environment and the like.

The company also wants to "smooth out the edges" of the shell logo, for the same reasons.

A spokesman for Shell, when asked yesterday whether these stories were true, replied: "Not that I've heard of. We have been in discussions with three agencies about how to develop our corporate relations strategy. No budget has been allocated yet, and no choice of agency has been made."

For good measure, the spokesman added that no changes were planned for the colour or shape of the "pecten".

The what? Not many people know this, but the Shell logo is called a pecten. Or, as the Chambers English Dictionary describes it: "The scallop genus of molluscs, with ribbed shell."

And its colour and shape are safe. Thank God for that.

THE PROPERTY team at Nicholson Graham & Jones, a law firm based in Cannon Street in the City, has unearthed a twist to the firm's name in a recent anagram quiz.

At the firm's annual training weekend, in between the usual orienteering and paintball "team-building" exercises, a challenge was set to find the best anagram from the firm's name. Strict rules applied - each letter had to be used, and used only once.

Bright sparks at the firm didn't take too long to work out that the managing partner's name, Michael Johns, can be extracted from the firm's moniker. The runner-up was "Michael Johns groans on".

Hard to top that, you may think, but property partner Nicky Hyams, who regularly acts for the likes of Jermyn Investment Properties and Dunbar Bank, went one better with: "On Michael John's organ". It sounds like an old folk song but, says Nicky: "It came to me in a flash."

THE FINANCIAL Services Authority (FSA) has poached another pointy head. Paul Johnson, currently the deputy director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), has been appointed senior economist, economics of financial regulation, at the FSA.

Mr Johnson, a mere 31, will report to Clive Briault, director of central policy at the FSA. Mr Johnson joined the IFS 10 years ago and has published extensively on pensions, income inequality and tax reform. He is also a member of the Pension Provision Group, chaired by Tom Ross and set up by the Secretary of State for Social Services to review the UK pensions system.

SCHRODER Investment Management is to sponsor the golfing European Seniors Tour which features veterans like Gary Player.

Yesterday one of the organisers, Bernard Gallacher, the golfer and director of the European PGA tour, discovered that he was born in the same year and on the same day as Rod Duncan, the director of Schroder Investment Management in charge of the sponsorship. Both will be 50 this year. Spooky. The similarities do not extend to their respective handicaps, however.

THE ROYAL Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is reckoned to be a pretty staid organisation, even by its members. There were raised eyebrows in the property world, therefore, when the incoming president, Richard Lay, booked an enormous venue for his inaugural address on 6 July.

According to this week's Estates Gazette, cynics predicted disaster when the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in Westminster was booked. Surely no one would bother turning up?

To everyone's amazement, around 900 people have accepted the invitation and the RICS is looking at installing screens outside the main auditorium.

The Gazette ascribes this interest to Mr Lay's promises of reform, which have raised expectations amongst the RICS's 73,000-strong membership.

Bearing in mind recent events in Marseilles, I hope there will be a strong police presence at the screens ...