Legal Business Blogs

Senior partner Cziesla departs as KWM expected to file second administration notice on Monday

Less than three months after being named King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) EUME senior partner, Michael Cziesla has already joined McDermott Will & Emery’s Frankfurt office the US firm confirmed today (6 January).

Cziesla was only elected as EUME senior partner on 18 October, defeating Dubai-based disputes partner Tim Taylor QC in the race between two legacy SJ Berwin veterans. The election was triggered after Stephen Kon’s early resignation in September last year, and was hoped to bring a period of stability for the ailing firm.

At the time of his promotion, Cziesla said: ‘I care deeply about KWM…The opportunity to help drive our firm forward as a challenger, top-tier law firm is one that I relish.’

Corporate partner Cziesla (pictured) joined SJ Berwin in 2002 and specialises in complex private equity and corporate transactions, including cross-border mergers, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures and restructurings. Cziesla is to join McDermott’s Frankfurt office alongside associate Norman Wasse, who will join as counsel.

He had also been designated as ‘officer’ when the KWM Deutschland LLP spin-off was created in December, with the intent of maintaining a European presence should the existing enter administration.

His departure leaves EUME managing partner and legacy Mallesons partner Tim Bednall as the only senior management figure at KWM in Europe. Cziesla’s exit comes as KWM is expected to file another intention of notice to appoint administrators on Monday (9 January), when the existing notice will expire after having been valid for 10 working days since 22 December when it was filed. The firm is only permitted to file this notice twice.

The extension will give the firm’s various suitors more time to finalise deals to take on parts of the legacy business, including agreements about work in progress within already announced large team moves, including DLA Piper and Greenberg Traurig. However, the second notice may not last for another ten days, as such notices can be halted at any point by the firm or its creditors.

KWM China has been negotiating with offices in Spain, Italy, Germany and Dubai, and also understood to be interested in keeping a small London presence.

Read more on KWM in ‘Comment: The moment of truth arrives in the SJ Berwin saga’

For an in-depth assessment of KWM, subscribers can see our July cover feature ‘Branded’