The fallout from last year’s combination of Herbert Smith and Australia’s Freehills continues to rumble on, with news that HSF‘s Singapore office has been weakened by two senior departures.
Former Freehills Singapore managing partner John Dick has left the firm following corporate partner Geoffrey Grice’s move to Duane Morris & Selvan in Singapore.
Dick is named in The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific as a leading individual for projects and energy, while Brice joined Freehills in 2009 from the state solicitor’s office of Western Australia and has over 20 years’ experience advising on major projects and cross-border transactions in Europe and Asia Pacific.
Singapore was the one jurisdiction where both legacy firms had a presence, although Freehills’ Singapore lawyers moved into Herbert Smith’s offices shortly after the merger went live in October 2012. However, the departures have not been isolated to legacy Freehills, as Herbert Smith energy partner Michelle Chen left to join Jones Day in November last year.
There has also been movement below partner level, with associates from both legacy firms leaving since the merger, such as senior associate Nicolas Watts and Simon Barrell moving to K&L Gates and Norton Rose Fulbright respectively on the Freehills side while litigators Rob Palmer and Chris Bailey both joined Ashurst as partners at the beginning of the year from Herbert Smith.
However, Freehills has also been relocating partners to Singapore, with Nichola Yeomans, an M&A partner, joining the office from Sydney at the beginning of the year.
A spokesman for HSF, confirming the partner departures, said: ‘there are always going to issues with integrating two firms, but this has been said for some time now’.
A continued source of contention within the firm has been the thorny issue of integration of the two financial systems. Talks were held last Friday in London and Monday in Australia as the firm looks for a way to break the deadlock before the departures continue.