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King & Wood loses five-lawyer energy team to Squire Patton Boggs

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has lost a five-lawyer team including global energy and infrastructure co-head Neil Upton to Squire Patton Boggs in the latest exits from its London office.

Upton joins the transatlantic firm with a team of four associates and two other staff. His practice focuses on advising utilities, banks and financial institutions on energy projects. Upton had worked on deals including financing several UK gas-fired power stations as well as power plant projects in Africa, Europe, China and the Middle East.

Squire has recently hired into its UK practice. In March, the firm added Andrew Herring into its real estate practice from DWF to its London office and last year hired James Duckworth as a construction partner in Sheffield from Nabarro. The firm also notably added to its energy disputes practice with the hire of Ben Holland from CMS Cameron McKenna in 2014.

Squire London managing partner Robert Weekes (pictured) said: ‘Neil fits so well with our teams here and globally. His appointment is a continuation of our strategic hiring in London, joining up practices and industry groups more closely and creating stronger links between international offices.’

The firm is currently approaching a leadership election after long-term EUME managing partner Peter Crossley confirmed he was stepping down from his leadership role after 12 years while remaining at the firm.

KWM has seen a number of partner exits in the last 12 months, most recently seeing four big billing City partners confirm their departures.

Last week, private equity partner Michael Halford, former managing partner Rob Day, corporate finance partner Andrew Wingfield and Jonathan Pittal all resigned from the firm.

The Asian legal giant has looked to shore up its European business after the string of high-profile exits. However, the legacy SJ Berwin practice was forced to halt a planned recapitalisation in the wake of the resignations.

The firm recently also replaced its senior leadership for EUME, electing Frankfurt-based Michael Cziesla as senior partner and Tim Bednall as managing partner.

Read more on Squire Patton Boggs in: ‘We have enough of a say’: Squire’s Peter Crossley on retirement, leadership and the US