Legal Business

News in brief – April 2016



Last month Eversheds and Osborne Clarke were reappointed to Siemens UK’s legal panel, while Addleshaw Goddard replaced Reed Smith, following a review. The new panel will last for three years.

Legal Business

Fasken Martineau slashes London lawyer headcount by a third ahead of office move


Fasken Martineau will close the doors of its Hanover Square office at the end of this week, relocating a significantly reduced 10 lawyer team to London’s Old Broad Street. Lawyer headcount at the firm’s City office has been cut by almost a third in just a few months, having 28 fee-earners at the beginning of this year.

The Canadian firm’s London headcount has been dropping steadily across the past two years. Figures from Legal Business Global London show the firm’s total City fee-earner count was 59 in 2015, dropping 16% on 2014’s level of 70. Partner numbers also declined 26% from 31 to 23.

The firm said its London office was under consultation in October last year, with the possibility of 70 job cuts. Since that time Companies House records show 19 individuals have left the partnership, including the firm’s former City head Gary Howes, who is now a consultant at the firm. While at the start of this year, the firm had 15 partners, only four partners move to the new London office: managing partner Al Gourley, co-leader of the firm’s global energy group Akinjide Abayomi, infrastructure projects partner Thomas Wexler and natural resources partner Jodi Katz.

Some of the partners that have left Fasken Martineau have moved on to various firms including Clyde & Co, Nabarro, Fladgate and Winckworth Sherwood.

A Fasken Martineau spokeswoman said: ‘We were refocusing our office and we’ve continued on that same path. We’ve significantly reduced our headcount and focused our business in our core areas – banking, corporate, mining and oil and gas. Our commitment to our clients and our business internationally remains the same. Partners have moved on and we’re opening next week with an office that is better suited for our size.’

The firm has eight offices with more than 700 lawyers across Canada and in the UK and South Africa, where it formed an alliance with Simmons & Simmons in 2014.

Legal Business

Under review: Fasken Martineau to cut up to 70 roles in London


Canadian firm Fasken Martineau has confirmed its London office is under consultation and up to 70 roles could be cut. Legal Business also understands that City office head Gary Howes has resigned.

A spokesperson at the firm confirmed the structural reform comes as the firm aims to target the energy and natural resources sectors, but said the office will not close.

A quick glance at Fasken Martineau’s numbers in the City confirms lawyer headcount has fallen in recent years. Legal Business’ Global London 2015 shows that total fee-earner count was 59 in April, dropping 16% on 2014’s level which counted 70. Partner numbers also declined 26% from 31 heads to 23. In addition, the firm’s position in the Global London rankings has also tumbled from the 19th spot in 2013 down to 26th this year.

Firm managing partner Peter Feldberg said in a statement: ‘We are strongly committed to the continued success of our international clients. This refocusing is consistent with that commitment.

‘As a result the law firm is undertaking consultations concerning up to 70 positions that may be affected by the restructuring.’

While the Canadian-based firm reigns in its London operations, Fasken Martineau formed an alliance last year with top-20 UK firm Simmons & Simmons in a bid to ‘enhance their respective African offerings’. This came after Fasken Martineau merged with local firm Bell Dewar two year earlier to boost the its capabilities in mining infrastructure, energy, project finance, capital markets and M&A work.

Legal Business

Simmons & Simmons forms Africa alliance with Fasken Martineau


Top-20 UK firm Simmons & Simmons has become the latest firm to establish a presence in Africa, by forming an alliance with Fasken Martineau, in a bid to ‘enhance their respective African offerings’.

Announced today (1 August), the alliance will provide ‘immediate access to leading Africa practices’ with recognised expertise across multiple sectors including energy & infrastructure and natural resources.

Canadian-based Fasken Martineau already has over 80 lawyers located in Johannesburg after merging in October 2012 with local firm Bell Dewar. The union boosted the firm’s capabilities in mining infrastructure, energy, project finance, capital markets and M&A work.

Simmons London-based energy partner Patrick Wallace and Paris-based partners Yves Baratte and Christian Taylor will be involved in spearheading the alliance, as well as Fasken Martineau’s South Africa managing partner Blaize Vance.

The news comes just days after Simmons announced it is set to expand in Saudi Arabia through the opening of a new office in the country’s capital, Riyadh, by alliance firm Hammad & Al-Mehdar.

On its latest venture, Simmons’ senior partner Colin Passmore, said: ‘This alliance builds on the strength of both firms’ expertise in the region enabling us to meet our clients’ needs more effectively. Energy & Infrastructure is one of Simmons & Simmons’ five priority sectors, and this is a major step in implementing our African strategy.’

Fasken Martineau managing partner David Corbett added: ‘Fasken Martineau has long been recognized for our unique understanding of the African marketplace. This alliance with Simmons & Simmons allows us to further expand our capabilities and the services which we offer clients.’

Other firms to announce an expanded capability on the African continent in recent months includes Dentons which in April tied up with local associate firm KapdiTwala to launch an office in Cape Town while in November Hogan Lovells confirmed it was combining with former Eversheds ally Routledge Modise. Eversheds made good on its African expansion strategy by signing a partnership agreement with existing relationship firm CWA Morocco in late March, establishing new offices in Casablanca and Tangier.