King & Wood Mallesons Global launches in London – a day after UK arm goes under

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By Alex Aldridge on

New firm “not presently” taking old firm trainees


The tragic tale of the UK arm of King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has ended with a bizarre twist: the ‘global’ incarnation of the firm has established a new business in London and other locations across Europe and the Middle East.

Yes, just a day after formally entering administration, KWM is back in a different guise to “maintain a strategic presence in the UK, Europe & the Middle East (EUME) to service the needs of its global clients”. This is possible because China-led KWM Global has always been a separate legal entity to KWM EUME.

KWM 2.0 will be staffed partly by over 30 partners, all of whom apparently come direct from KWM’s doomed EUME arm.

The partners and their accompanying teams of associates and support staff will handle predominantly corporate, M&A, finance, competition and dispute resolution. Seven of those partners will be based in London, with others split across Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Brussels, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Among the group will be Dubai-based Tim Taylor QC — whose explosive email bust-up with New York funds partner George Pinkham was leaked to Legal Cheek yesterday.

No trainees will be moving with the partners. This morning a spokesperson from KWM told us that the new firm would “not presently” be taking any trainees or future trainees from the now defunct KWM EUME.

With firms including Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells helping KWM EUME’s London trainees finish their training contracts, Legal Cheek understands that all pre-qualified rookies from the stricken firm will ultimately find a new home. Just today, Osborne Clarke confirmed it will be taking on two KWM trainees.

However, the situation is proving more difficult for students hired as future trainees by KWM EUME, some of whom report that they are being forced to re-apply for jobs from scratch at new firms without any allowances made for their situation.

KWM Global Chairman Wang Junfeng said:

I am proud and excited by the determination of our partners who have worked so hard with us to realise this practice in deeply challenging circumstances. This is a very good outcome for international clients and for the continued development of our firm.

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