A Milbank partner's email which celebrated the Easter holiday by telling his team to provide "24/7/365 client service" has resurfaced after being passed around City lawyers.

Apostolos Gkoutzinis, an international capital markets and finance lawyer, moved to the London office of US firm Milbank from Shearman & Sterling in January 2018. He has described himself as "passionate, impatient and aspirational".

Headed, "Happy Easter and some thoughts", the email he sent to his team on 31 March last year began with fire and brimstone sentiments about the importance of Easter.

"As we are pausing for a few precious moments to reconnect with our families and recharge", wrote Gkoutzinis, "and perhaps for some reflect on the true meaning of Easter, the passing of the old world of sin and failure to the new world of hope and redemption, I wanted to thank you all, sincerely, for making our transition to the firm and the practice a wonderful experience."

Instead of ending there, Gkoutzinis launched into a call to arms. "There is no doubt that we are at the very beginning and most of the challenges are ahead of us", he wrote, possibly while mentally riding a horse along a line of his solicitors. "But, we have assembled a team. We are doing deals. We are getting to know each other".


cave

"You need me on the call, now?"


Promising that "there is so much more to come...we have barely started" and listing an action plan and big deals he was working on, the partner warned staff to calm themselves. "A word of caution: the new reality of our premier team has not yet arrived. We are all seeing the nascent signs of the repositioning of this practice into the elite status in the European capital and financing markets. But the reality of unqualified elite and dominant status is not yet here. We have to work hard for that". 

In the email, a copy of which was passed to RollOnFriday, Gkoutzinis specified that the first guiding principle for the team was "24/7/365 client service". That meant "clients first, ahead of our personal time, leisure or preferences", he wrote.

The partner signed off by wishing "you and all your loved ones my warmest wishes this Easter weekend".

Asked for their reaction to the email, a Milbank lawyer said, "Unsurprised. We're aware Milbank don't care about our personal lives, but great to be reminded over Bank Holiday weekend".

Cleary would approve. Milbank declined to comment.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Revolving Door 18 April 19 10:33

Precisely the reason why Milbank has one of the highest associate burn ratios in the city, only few are OK with getting constantly rogered.

Anonymous 18 April 19 12:22

My experience is that the lawyers who have the least to offer in terms of skill, insight, client management or legal knowledge tend to be the ones who are the most keen to be present and available the whole time. Presumably, they think it makes up for their deficiencies in all other areas.  

Sumoking 18 April 19 13:40

I thnk there is a reason that people who say things like 

described himself as "passionate, impatient and aspirational".

are Apprentice candidates

Anon. 18 April 19 14:18

Last week he gave a dressing down to an associate who set an out of office email whilst on leave - apparently this is "unacceptable" and does not "come across as professional to clients".

Mental illnesses 18 April 19 15:05

Is it any wonder mental illness is a problem in the profession where you have massive gonads like this doing their very best David Brent impressions?  

Anon - a seventy year old with many life experiences 18 April 19 15:30

He clearly doesn't know how to manage people and get the best out of them and as a leader he fails miserably.  A good leader takes on board responsibility for his team including their welfare, and at times this may extend to their home life.  Over work in the persuance of money is pure greed which all too often is rewarded with mental illness or family breakdowns. I would welcome an opportunity to meet with this man and discuss his work ethic - perhaps he naively believes the tripe that he utters - a complete and utter fool who one day might see sense and realise life is for living. In all things there is a balance.       

Anon 18 April 19 15:32

He moved to Milbank in Jan 2018 from Shearman with a very good HY team, built it even stronger and has made a big dent in HY market share since then.   HY associates in London are very well paid and Milbank is top of the tops.   Associates who work in those HY groups are well aware that their extremely generous pay packages come with sacrificing some leisure time.   Stop trying to tear down a very talented lawyer who is building a business, RoF.   Law is a customer service business, full stop.  

BST2019 18 April 19 16:48

Sounds like David Brent type leadership but actually more serious than that in terms of likely impact on mental health for staff.

Anonymous 18 April 19 17:24

top of tops eh? good to have the sycophantic Milbank gimps out here to join us tonite 

Glengarry Glen Ross 19 April 19 10:21

"Oh yeah, I used to be a solicitor, it's a tough racket." ... but the leads are weak. 

Easter bunny 19 April 19 17:07

Horrid culture. No “personal time, leisure or preferences”. His associates must have great lives with all that money and no time to spend it. Saving for medical bills probably..

Former Colleague of Mr Apostolos Gkoutzinis 19 April 19 18:39

This is completely unsurprising, to those that know the guy.   He is an absolute workhorse and prioritises his job/career/business/clients over EVERYTHING (literally). He is also incredibly knowledgeable, committed and impressive professionally. The demands he places on his associates, are no less than those he expects of himself. As a client, you'd love him (despite all those in-housers on here who say they want their external counsel to be real, personable people blah blah blah... ultimately, when you're paying such huge rates in fees, someone who consistently delivers quality on (or ahead of) time is what I really want, and what most other senior GCs/in house counsel who rely on that output want). For a law firm partnership, he's also a HUGE rainmaker... his billings are just crazy (beyond any other partner I've worked with), which goes to prove my point that clients value this unremitting and unnatural commitment to them. However, Apostolos lacks even the most remote traces of self-awareness, and is completely emotionally unaware.  Emails like those described above pale into insignificance when compared to some of his other emails, and embarrassing utterances/speeches in team meetings.  As a former colleague of his, I'd sometimes make the odd small joke at his expense (friendly, not malicious) when he made ridiculous statements - whilst others chuckled, Apostolos just wouldn't understand and would look perplexed.  He just doesn't get how, for example, advising team members to fly business class (presumably paid out of their own pocket) when they go on their personal holidays, so that they can work more effectively on the flight, would sound bonkers to people - to him, it's a perfectly normal thing to do.  Also, clearly unaware of how (in the same speech) almost maligning people who fly economy, as "it's horrible, and not productive", demonstrably lacks any humility or self-awareness.  He's on another planet, and will never change - he's not malicious, but he's not a good manager (different to being a good lawyer or rainmaker) at all due to his lack of empathy, understanding and awareness of other people's perspectives. 

Carpenter 24 April 19 10:12

"The chairman of Baker McKenzie, Paul Rawlinson, has died unexpectedly. He was 56. In October last year Rawlinson took temporary leave as the firm's global chair due to medical conditions caused by exhaustion."   Working yourself to exhaustion to meet every whim of every client has consequences.

Anonymelting 24 April 19 12:19

As a response to the below (Carpenter), while the partner in question is, and has been, described as incredibly work driven and committed, I doubt that he is the one having to work repeatedly into the night; that task is for his associates, whether junior or more senior.

I'm a bit late to the party on this one but... 24 April 19 13:27

Christ, he was one of 40 "stars under 40" in 2015.  Which makes him about my age.  He doubtless makes a lot more money than me (I do alright...) but bloody hell I thought he was about 55 looking at his picture.  Anyway, at least he's enjoying himself.

warning 25 April 19 14:37

Phenomenally hard working man, and equally harsh taskmaster. He whips and drives his associates like there's no tomorrow. Avoid doing High Yield at Milbank unless you're willing to be rogered to the last inch of your aching rectum, kids.

Anon 26 April 19 08:18

In house-lawyer here.  I honestly try to avoid giving work to people like this, I've honestly no desire to be a party to an abusive relationship.

Worker Bee 27 April 19 14:59

It's clear that the comments and 'thumbs down' here demonstrate exactly why there are no English, NY-qualified high yield lawyers in London: just not willing to work as hard as the market demands (and reap the rewards) in this market niche.    Your issue should not be with this partner at Milbank;  rather, it should be with the speed at which the lev fin/HY market moves and corresponding client demands. 

Juriet Blavo 30 April 19 08:26

To address the first comment above - why should anyone choose to work high yield silly hours when you can make the same money in another practice area that will ravage your health and life less? Let the Americans work that hard if they want to. I suspect the Brits who aren’t high yield cap markets partners are comfortable with their career choices. Anyway, the projected transition of the European leveraged market to an all-bond, NY-law model has never happened, despite all the doom-mongering and posturing, and by now is probably never going to happen. Banks are back. So there’s room at the table yet for comfortable old english-qualifies bank debt lawyers who like getting home at midnight rather than at 4am.

Je suis Monty Don l’autobus 30 April 19 08:29

My clients know that, outside of scheduled working hours on weekdays, my personal time, leisure and preferences have precedence over their needs. They seem OK with this, tbh. Or at least they acquiesce to it.