Legal Business Blogs

Eight already depart KWM partnership as European restructuring kicks in

Eight City-based lawyers have left the partnership at King & Wood Mallesons as part of a restructuring that will see up to 24 partners exit across Europe and the Middle East.

Just 42 days after KWM’s global managing partner Stuart Fuller and Europe and Middle East senior partner Stephen Kon informed staff at the firm’s London office that 15% of its 160-strong partnership across the UK, continental Europe and the Middle East would lose their jobs as part of the restructuring, eight partners have left, according to Companies House records.

Construction partner Stuart Jordan, employment partner Hilary O’Connor, London head of tax Heather Corben, litigation partner Jason Juden and corporate partner David Parkes were all filed as ‘appointment terminated’ with Companies House yesterday (3 May).

Juden led the property litigation team at SJ Berwin & Co ahead of the City firm’s combination with KWM and subsequently co-headed the UK real estate practice. Parkes, meanwhile, was co-head of the firm’s Africa and Russia/CIS groups.

Also on the list is real estate partner Darren Rogers, who has joined Ashurst; Wyn Derbyshire, a pensions, trust and employment lawyer who  is no longer a partner at the firm but has been retained as a consultant; while Legal Business understands that Angus Evers, an environmental and health and safety specialist who has also left the partnership, is currently on sabbatical with an option to return to the firm as a consultant.

The firm expects the restructuring to be completed by the end of the year, with further exits set to come in London and Germany. Around 15% of its European and Middle Eastern partners have been affected, with an additional 45 business services roles in London made redundant.

The legacy SJ Berwin arm of KWM, covering Europe and the Middle East, was the worst-performing region of the firm last year behind cornerstone practices in Australia, Hong Kong and China as global revenue dropped 1% to $1.02bn in 2015. London is by far the largest office in the Europe and Middle East region, generating around 65% of the region’s revenue of £191m.

Nonetheless, it has been under constant strain with a string of significant partner exits, cash flow problems culminating in delayed payments to partners and a lack of leadership following the resignation of Europe and Middle East managing partner William Boss after less than a year in the post to return to fee earning.

However, the restructuring has had unintended consequences, with a highly regarded six-partner private equity team in Paris leaving to join Goodwin Procter last month in a move that severely depletes its local capabilities.