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Mishcon and Hogan Lovells line up as KWM takes case against Goodwin Procter over PE team

Mishcon de Reya and Hogan Lovells are to face off as King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) issues a claim against Goodwin Procter over several private equity hires made by the US firm.

As reported by Legal Business in July, KWM wrote to Goodwin over potential legal proceedings against it concerning the exit of a six-partner private equity team. The team, which included Paris managing partner Christophe Digoy and Maxence Bloch, is understood to have walked out with at least £8m in annual billings.

KWM’s claim is understood to be against both Richard Lever and Goodwin Procter. Lever announced he would leave KWM in April 2015 to develop a City PE practice at Goodwin, while the Boston-based announced the Paris team would join it from KWM a year later.

Goodwin is being represented by Hogan Lovells’ employment partner Stefan Martin, while Mishcon’s head of employment Daniel Naftalin is acting for KWM. Goodwin and KWM both declined to comment on the case.

KWM has said it will re-build its practice in France, highlighting that its profitable Paris funds team was unaffected by the Goodwin departures. The firm’s European partnership has undergone a testing 18 months, having recently re-organised its structure, moving from 17 to three divisions, asked 24 partners to leave in March and increased its loan facility with Barclays earlier this year.

This month the firm replaced both leaders for its legacy SJ Berwin practice, opting for Frankfurt partner Michael Cziesla as EUME senior partner, defeating Dubai-based disputes partner Tim Taylor QC. Earlier this October the partnership elected Tim Bednall as EUME managing partner, defeating Gareth Amdor in a two-man race for the position.

For more on King & Wood Mallesons, subscribers can see Branded for an in-depth look at the firm.