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Edwards Wildman faces five-strong London partner revolt following string of City exits

Edwards Wildman is in talks with five disgruntled London partners following a string of exits from the top 100 US firm and accusations from one ex-partner that the City site is being neglected by its Boston headquarters.

The news comes as it has emerged that London insurance & reinsurance partner Damian Connolly this month took up the position of chief legal officer for American managed healthcare company Aetna International.

Located at Old Broad Street, the five partners in question are understood to be unhappy over the lack of support from the US together with issues of ‘disconnection’.

An ex-partner told Legal Business: ‘It’s the usual mixture of problems of a London office when it goes to the stage of being neglected. There are partners looking at their exit strategy if the talks don’t meet their expectations and satisfaction.’

The news comes as one person familiar with the situation claimed that Edwards Wildman is looking to sell off its 25-partner City office altogether, a claim it has strongly denied.

A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘There is no truth to the rumour that we intend to sell our London office. Reflecting the constant movement in the legal industry, however, a few partners may consider leaving in the near term. We are strongly committed to the continued growth of our international platform, particularly London.’

A number of partners have exited the firm in recent weeks, most recently Connolly and insurance heavyweight Francis Mackie, who in early June started his new role at national firm Weightmans as part of the firm’s strategy to significantly grow the insurance side of its business.

In March, Edwards Wildman’s aviation and aerospace group head Mark Meyer exited for Cozen O’Connor’s London office as a partner in its insurance and reinsurance practice while in January, Fieldfisher hired IT disputes partner Geoff Mendelsohn who joined the latter’s IP enforcement and litigation group after less than two years at Edwards Wildman.

The 540-lawyer firm suffered a poor performance for the 2013/14 year according to financials published in AmLaw, which show a revenue drop of 9.4% to $311.5m while revenue per lawyer decreased 4.2% to $575,000. Profits per partner remained relatively static with a dip of 0.7% to $680,000.

Established in October 2011 from the merger of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge and Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, the firm currently has 16 offices globally. In January it boosted its City offering with the hire of the former head of Taylor Wessing’s international insurance & reinsurance James Crabtree.