Legal Business Blogs

First Edwards Wildman City fallout since ‘revolt’ as Cooley one of three US firms circling

In many ways the only real surprise about the departure of Edwards Wildman senior London venture capital partner Shawn Atkinson to Orrick is the speed with which it has been announced, after Legal Business revealed on Tuesday (17 June) that the US top 100 firm is in talks with five London partners following a string of exits, with Cooley and two other US firms said to be circling.

It is not yet known if Atkinson, who serves as co-chair of Edwards Wildman’s venture capital group, the cross-border group and its Central & Eastern Europe group, was one of the partners directly involved in the talks, after a statement from Edwards Wildman on Tuesday said: ‘..a few partners may consider leaving in the near term.’

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’.

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.

Three other US firms are said to have been circling, including California-headquartered firm Cooley, which is known to be looking to launch in the City.

On Atkinson’s hire, Orrick’s chairman Mitch Zuklie said: ‘Well respected for his deep knowledge of the technology and emerging companies market, Shawn adds to our London team tremendous complementary strength representing investors in growth equity investments and emerging markets. We are excited to be able to offer his talent to our clients, particularly at a time when the market is white hot.’

This is the second lateral Orrick has made to its London office this year, following the move of Stephen Phillips from White & Case to co-head Orrick’s European restructuring practice in February.