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Uncertain times for King & Wood Mallesons trainees as Dentons pulls out of merger talks

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Twitter account set up to help staff find jobs

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The futures of King & Wood Mallesons‘(KWM) trainee solicitors hang in the balance today as a potential merger deal to save the firm will now not go ahead.

On Monday Legal Cheek reported that KWM was holding “detailed discussions” with a “small number” of potential merger suitors, including global titan Dentons. It is now understood that in the last 24 hours Dentons — the largest law firm in the world by lawyer headcount — is no longer party to these discussions.

Confirming that KWM staff “received an update from the management team regarding the future of the practice”, a spokesperson said:

Details of the update are an internal matter and are thus confidential. However, we can confirm that the discussions launched on 9 December with a small number of interested parties continue. We are not able to comment further until those discussions have been concluded.

It would now appear increasingly likely that the firm will be broken up into chunks, with KWM’s lawyers — the lucky ones, at least — being snapped up by firms across the City.

But where does this leave KMW’s trainees? Legal Cheek understands that the firm’s management has already been in touch with both the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Law Society over a possible deal. For KWM trainees due to qualify in February, special dispensation may be offered — allowing them to still qualify as solicitors — providing their training supervisor is satisfied they have attained the necessary skills.

It is also understood that KWM is looking into the option of transferring training contracts to other firms, for those trainees who still have another year or so to go before they qualify.

The development comes as a Twitter page is launched to help KWM’s non fee-earners find alternative employment. The account — which is called ‘Help KWM staff’ — claims that when firms go under support staff are often “forgotten” about.

Can you help re-home a KWM trainee? Contact Legal Cheek here.