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Bingham’s City arm faces restructuring team exodus to Akin Gump

Bingham McCutchen is set to suffer the departure of a team of City partners from the firm’s trophy financial restructuring group to US rival Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld‘s London office.

Sources close to Bingham have confirmed the move will involve a significant chunk of the highly ranked London restructuring team, which could threaten the continuation of its restructuring capability in the City.

The restructuring practice in London, which is ranked among the top tier of firms in The Legal 500, is led by London managing partner James Roome, who co-heads the firm’s global restructuring group. The London team currently comprises 14 partners, including highly rated names such as London finance group head Barry Russell, Tom Bannister, Neil Devaney and James Terry.

News of the departures follows a tough year of falling revenues at Bingham McCutchen, which Roome attributed to a much softer debt restructuring market in 2013. London revenue was down 4.4% to $52.3m in 2013 from $54.7m in 2012. Revenue per lawyer in the City was also down by 6% to $1.09m from $1.16m last year.

The picture was the same for the firm globally. While Bingham weathered the financial downturn extremely well thanks largely to a booming restructuring practice, Bingham suffered in 2013 with revenues for the financial year falling by 12.6% to $762m from $871.8m in 2012.

Neither Bingham nor Akin Gump would comment on the move but sources have confirmed the main reason behind the partner exits is conflicting opinions over the firm’s strategy.

Earlier this year, the firm announced a landmark change in leadership as longstanding chairman Jay Zimmerman said he would step down in 2015 after 20 years at the helm, with managing partner Steve Browne set to take over.