Our coverage of the London legal market tends to be episodic. We tried offering more regular coverage for a while, with our Letter from London column, but we put the feature on hold to focus on domestic developments. (We might revive the London column if we can find a sponsor for it.)
We will, however, cover major news out of London — such as last week’s massive defections from White & Case to Latham & Watkins.
From an irate reader:
Why is it that you devote multiple posts to four partners leaving Paul Hastings but don’t even mention that 13 partners just left White & Case for Latham? What the hell is going on at White & Case? And how the hell can Latham absorb 13 new partners?
Well, it’s not that difficult. Law firm mergers, involving the integration of hundreds of partners (not just 13), happen all the time — as do practice group defections, involving dozens of partners. Guys in my high school used to defect to rival firms all the time, it was no big deal.
Anyway, here are the details, as reported by Legal Week:
White & Case has been hit by a 12-partner walkout to US rival Latham & Watkins. It was confirmed on 29 January that a four-partner banking team has quit the London office, with Chris Kandel, the co-head of London bank finance, leaving alongside partners Sam Hamilton, Brian Conway and Jayanthi Sadanandan.
The departures, already regarded as a significant blow to a practice that had previously suffered the high-profile departures of Maurice Allen and Mike Goetz to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in March 2008, were followed on Monday (1 February) by a further eight partners leaving to join Latham globally.
Losing a dozen partners amounts to almost 20 percent of White & Case’s partner in headcount in London. After the defections, the firm has under 60 partners in that office. The moves are yet another sign that Latham, which had a tough year in 2009, is back in expansion mode.
The London losses were followed shortly thereafter by another defection from White & Case to Latham, this time in the Middle East:
White & Case has lost its 13th partner to Latham & Watkins, with Doha-based M&A specialist Andrew Macklin becoming the latest to switch between the two firms.
Macklin, who made partner at White & Case in January 2009 after joining the firm in 2005, relocated to Doha in October last year to head up the US firm’s new office in the region. His departure leaves the newly-launched base with just one associate.
White & Case declared in a statement that it “remain[s] committed to Qatar” and will soon announce the partner who will assume leadership of the Doha office. The firm also plans “to transfer associates to the office during 2010 to provide it with additional strength.” If you’ve always wanted to work in the Middle East, maybe you should send a résumé to White & Case.
If you have the inside scoop on what’s going on, at either White & Case or Latham & Watkins, feel free to email us.
UPDATE: White & Case is taking steps to respond to these personnel losses.
White & Case under scrutiny as 12 finance partners quit for Latham [Legal Week]
Latham seals hire of thirteenth White & Case partner with Doha hire [Legal Week]