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KWM latest: K&L Gates and Orrick take Munich partners as Covington poised to take top litigator Pollack and team

US firms K&L Gates, Covington & Burling and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are the latest to take on partners from the beleaguered European practice of King & Wood Mallesons (KWM).

K&L Gates has hired corporate partner Franz Schaefer, alongside counsel Martina Ortner and associate Christoph Kuster from KWM’s Munich office.

Schaefer is dual-qualified in Germany and New York, and specialises in M&A and corporate law. Among his client base he counts printing press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer AG which he has counselled for more than 10 years, Sino-German Ecopark Group and the Nasdaq-listed Monotype group, a leading provider of typefaces. The move follows K&L’s hire of KWM’s investment management partner Hilger von Livonius in July as a founding member of K&L’s Munich office.

Orrick also confirmed it has hired partner Christoph Brenner, who is currently head of corporate in Germany. Brenner will also join from KWM’s Munich office.

Meanwhile KWM head of litigation Craig Pollack (pictured) has agreed to join Covington & Burling, and will take partner Louise Freeman and a group of associates with him. It is understood Covington’s partnership will vote on Pollack’s hire later this week.

Pollack was one of the biggest billers at KWM’s City office and advises investment banks, hedge funds, public companies and high net worth individuals.

DLA Piper and Greenberg Traurig have also taken on teams from the legacy SJ Berwin practice, which is carrying more than £30m in debt and is expected to enter administration in January.

DLA Piper will take on real estate partner William Naunton and several members of his team including partners Cornelius Medvei, Bryan Pickup, Ed Page, George Burrha and Jeremy Brooks. Managing associate Omer Maroof will also join as a partner. They join alongside eight other lawyers and three trainees, and are expected to join DLA mid-January.

Naunton is a significant biller for KWM, having billed almost £4m for the firm in the last year. When he joined KWM alongside Clive Jones and former Eversheds partner Cornelius Medvei in late 2014, the team was seen as key to KWM’s aim to expand its structured, high-end real estate offering. On joining DLA, he will become co-head of the UK real estate group.

However, Jones will join Greenberg Traurig. Alongside Jones the US firm also hired private equity funds partners Steven Cowins and Marc Snell, M&A partners Michael Goldberg and David Fitzgerald and partner Matthew Priday along with their teams.

Cowins is one of KWM’s top billers, having joined SJ Berwin in 2005. He specialises in real estate funds and joint ventures and counts Crown Estate among his clients. Goldberg and Priday focus on commercial real estate investment and have British Land on their client roster.

These are the latest in a long line of defects from KWM’s European business; heavyweight biller Michael Halford has last month joined Goodwin Procter with the other funds partners Ajay Pathak, Ed Hall, Shawn D’Aguiar and Patrick Deasy.

Corporate finance partner Andrew Wingfield and former managing partner Rob Day joined Proskauer Rose. The pair’s resignation, along with Halford’s exit and Jonathan Pittal also handing in his notice caused KWM to halt its recapitalisation plans in October.

Former KWM managing partner William Boss was hired earlier this month by Addleshaw Goddard, alongside Simon Tager and Michael Scott. Meanwhile former senior partner Stephen Kon confirmed last week he would retire from the law.

Reed Smith is another firm in talks with several partners, while KWM’s own Asian arm is trying to secure a European presence through an office spin-off. Although it had expressed interest in a merger deal, Dentons has since pulled out of discussions.

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