King & Wood Mallesons notifies court of its intention to appoint administrators, again

Delaying the inevitable


Troubled international law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has notified the courts of its intention to appoint administrators for a second time.

Delaying what many believe is an inevitable administration process, the firm made a second filing with the High Court this morning.

Back in December KWM revealed it had filed its first notice in order to “protect the firm from its creditors”. At the time, a spokesperson told Legal Cheek that the move would allow the firm “to maintain client service as it continues to explore all available options”.

It’s been a difficult past few weeks for KWM: earlier this month it emerged that the firm had stopped paying some of its staff. The UK and European arm of KWM — which is believed to be £30 million in debt — notified around 100 employees, including lawyers, of its decision not to pay them. KWM declined to comment on the report, but last week did deny a “decidedly not funny” claim that it had run out of toilet paper.

A glimmer of hope for the firm’s youngsters: Legal Cheek revealed before Christmas that a rescue plan had been devised to save the stricken giant’s 60 or so trainees. With a host of City firm’s offering to lend a much-needed hand — including magic circle duo Linklaters and Allen & Overy — a spokesperson for KWM told Legal Cheek:

The profession has responded fantastically well to this situation and we are currently in discussion with a large number of firms across the City with regard to our trainees in London.

UPDATE: Tuesday 10 January 2:44pm

An internal memo from KWM’s managing partner Tim Bednall has confirmed that the firm’s bank would no longer be approving salary payments.

The message — which was sent to all lawyers and support staff earlier today — revealed that Barclays had rejected fresh proposals put forward by the firm to ensure its employees still got paid. KWM declined to comment on the development.

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For clarification… There is no “glimmer of hope”. Please stop spreading lies and making a dire situation even worse.


The “glimmer of hope” is in relation to the firm’s trainees you clown. Two firm’s have already publicly stated they are willing to help out.

future trainee kwm

and yet we’ve heard no such thing, LC have been publishing some shit these last few weeks


I know what the glimmer of hope was referring to you ‘clown’. The ‘help’ is nothing like what is being reported hence my comment. Pipe down until you’re better informed.

KWM fee earner

“[KWM’s restaurant] Stanley’s is still open but the kitchen staff are emptying the freezers and you can’t blame them. The restaurant used to be a hive of activity but now it’s pretty much closed. Stanley Berwin would be turning in his grave.”

This is a direct employee quote published in The Lawyer, I personally know the guy who said it. No glimmer of hope, stop lying LC.


Just wondering – what beating does the quote have on what LC said? The firm’s as good as dead, but that in itself doesn’t mean the employees are stuffed.

City worker

I walked past KWM’s offices during the tube strike yesterday. You could actually smell the foul stench of debts, depression and a lack of toilet paper all over Southwark Bridge.

kwm trainee

for the last time will legal cheek stop pushing the story that there is a rescue plan for trainees, as a future trainee there is none, this is coming from someone who is far better informed than LC


I feel so sorry for the current and future trainees,they’ve been treated shockingly.

Adam Deen

Sux 2 b them lololol

Meanwhile I’m making the big US dolla yea boi

Adam Deen

Neither, I’m sat in my mum’s spare room pretending I’m a big guy! Makes me look really hard.

By the way, can you give me any info on the magic circle firm Irwin Mitchell I’ve been hearing all about?


Why though? You’ll spend months getting judgement, wasting money in the process, just in time to join the end of the queue as the bank and the tax man swallows up all the assets.


What, because their LPC grants can be stretched to instruct solicitors and Counsel? Come off it.


I hope the partners are happy in their new roles. I hope they know it’s because of them that support staff are fighting to find jobs while being unpaid with no sign of a redundancy notice.


Uh – that’s breach of contract. No need to go to work.


And it has just been announced on The Lawyer that staff we not even be paid weekly as previously promised.


There is a rescue plan (for 30 or so). The others have been left in behind to fend for themselves.


I can’t even begin to imagine what must be going through the minds of all the ”future trainees” staring at this epic mess.

What should they do now? Have they been formally ‘withdrawn’ out of their TCs? Can they now reapply to different firms? Anybody know?


Yes. Everyone is having to reapply again using the normal process. There is no rescue deal or firms rallying around.


Does this mean some people will end up waiting another 2 years until they can start their TC?

Holy f*cking shit.


Shiiii!!! That’s if they get another TC offer this year! I would be so devastated!


I imagine it’s a very stressful situation for them, but small silver lining is that it happened before they commenced their TCs (no intention to upset those who already *have* commenced TC at KWM and who have no safety net established).

For those who have been funded through the LPC by KWM, at least they didn’t have to pay for it themselves and can probably go on to get some decent paralegal work whilst applying for TCs elsewhere. Ditto for anyone doing the GDL. Although for those doing the GDL, they better do their very best so as to stay in competition for TC applications; I know that some firms stipulate in the TC contract that GDL students only need a Pass (not sure if KWM requires more than a Pass), but no decent firm would give a TC to someone who has already done the GDL and not scraped a Merit at the very least. Massive insult to regular undergrad law students who wouldn’t stand a chance if they got a 2:2 overall…


I bet their toilet paper suppliers are high up on the list of creditors, the amount of shit that has come out of the firm over the years


The firm’s restaurant still running is like the engines of a great liner still running as she slowly goes down, with the cries of the helpless in the water.

And oh, the rich took all the lifeboats.

F**king appalling.

Businesses go under, but this seems a total mess.

Future trainee

Any idea what will happen to us future trainees who are now midway through the GDL/LPC? Are our fees paid for? Could BPP chase us for those?


Usually these will be prepaid by the sponsoring firm so yours should be covered if your course has already started.

Future trainee

Well that’s a load off. At least I get the course free of charge, now just to bag that TC…


Not so fast mate, the creditors might be going after you for that, especially if a remainder of it remains outstanding.


I should imagine that KWM signed a contract with BPP for you to attend.

Should KWM have paid in instalments, then BPP are likely to have the right to prevent teaching you the course should the remaining instalments not be paid. However, if KWM paid for the course upfront then I should imagine you’ll be kept on.

If the former rather than the latter is the case, then surely the SRA should step in?

Probably best to speak with either HR or the accounts dept at BPP.


If I were you I’d just work as hard as possible this year to achieve a high Merit/Distinction on your GDL. Perhaps you were aiming for this already, but I know that some TC holders rest on their laurels during their GDL on the assurance from whatever firm that they only need such and such a grade. Putting on any future TC application that you had and lost a KWM TC is probably a good indication of your potential, but ultimately any firm that offers a TC to a non-law grad is gambling on that student’s ability to successfully switch discipline and excel at the law. No point saying that you once had a TC in the bag if you then don’t shine on the GDL


The level of self interest in the management and partners at this firm to the direct detriment of the more junior and business support staff is pretty shocking. Being held hostage at the firm without pay while they try and get the best deal (for the banks and themselves) is abhorrent.

They need to do the decent thing and let staff go, cancel the trainees training contracts so they can start jobs elsewhere or at least start applying freely.

And absolutely stop talking about these non-existent “rescue deals” which are, at best, free PR for the firms who decided to unscrupulously take part in the stunt.

Disgusted all round and good riddance to KWM.


Dear colleagues,

You will have heard from your Employee Representatives on Thursday that salaries were due to be paid on Friday last or yesterday. I am very sorry to have to tell you that this payment will not be paid, and no further salary payments will be made (with the exceptions set out below).

Barclays, our bankers, indicated to me on Thursday evening that they were not willing to approve the salary payments due to you. I made a proposal to the bank on Friday to counter this, asking that essential payments including salaries be paid. This proposal was rejected on Friday. I made a further proposal to ensure salary payments could be made on Sunday and this, also, was rejected. A final proposal was submitted to the bank last night and, with deepest regret, this too was rejected this morning.

I appreciate that the position the bank has taken puts you all in a difficult position and I am very sorry that there is nothing further that I can do to cause the bank to change its mind. Although Barclays stands to lose a substantial amount of money it will have benefited by around £5m in the last week in terms of business receipts and anticipated proceeds of the sale of parts of the business.

We have, today, filed a second Notice of Intention to Appoint Administrators at the Court with an alternative administrator named on the filing – Andrew Hosking of Quantuma – after Alix Partners declined to consent to be named as administrators because of concerns about funding. We will now be seeking to accelerate the appointment of Andrew Hosking as administrator.

In order to undertake the administration we will need to maintain our essential services and I will be contacting a significant number of employees with an offer of continuing employment as soon as possible, certainly within the next 24 hours. Please continue with business as usual, as challenging as that is, until you receive further instructions. Non-legal staff who are not required for the administration need not attend the office from tomorrow.

Individuals who are required as part of the administration will, of course, be paid. If you are a fee-earner and you are transferring to another firm, you will be aware of your obligations to continue to work on the files that you are looking after until your transfer. Please can I also remind you of your professional obligations to ensure that an orderly transfer of files occurs.

Finally, I’m sorry to say that Stanley’s has now closed and your daily allowance cannot be used at the ground floor café. Again, payment to continue your daily allowance was part of the three proposals I put to the bank as I consider this to be an essential payment. This was refused.

This is a difficult message to write, no doubt as difficult as it is to read. I have the deepest regret for all that has happened in recent weeks, but no more so than this. The bank has put us in an impossible situation and, despite the immense challenges, we must do everything we can to ensure our clients’ interests are protected.


Tim Bednall | Managing Partner, EUME

King & Wood Mallesons


is that a serious question or do you actually think Tim Bednall would post that here?

Tommy Connelly

It’s a well-known fact that Tim is an avid reader of LC.


So lemme get this straight: is this guy seriously asking people to continue toiling away for no cash even as there’s now no food left in the building, no DX/IT, no Land Reg access and no bog roll to wipe one’s arse with?

What an utter joker.

No bog roll, no hope

“Please can I also remind you of your professional obligations to ensure that an orderly transfer of files occurs.”

In response to that in particular, the temptation to personally deliver any such file to him with a note reading “plz deal”, along with a freshly laid turd, must be almost irresistible.


See how he blames it all on Barclays? “The bank, the bank, the bank”. Sick.

True Story

LC really need to stop with the ‘rescue plant’ spiel. Future trainees were told that the firm would set up streamlined interviews with other firms but that hasn’t materialised. Those making applications are having to go through the usual video interviews/assessment centres just like a normal applicant.


Lol’d at KWM blaming the banks for being the bad guys. How much more bullshit do you think your employees can swallow?

On a serious note, is there actually anyone left? Why would you even bother turning up to work if it is going to be unpaid?


I’d be outta the door pronto. But first I’d squat down and drop a gargantuan steaming turd right in front of the managing partner’s door.

Then I’d wipe my arse with my contract of employment and flog right off.

Sidley Auston

KWM partners who left should be personally liable for all this!!! Fat bastards pissed off with their millions


These partners are f*cking cockroaches, they will infect other firms where they have moved to.. So these other firms need to keep an eye on these cockroaches…

Yeah.. You know who you are cockroach partners (Ex KWM)..


Unfortunately the partners have no pride or morals. Partner drawings come first and the business and its employees a very distant second. The partners would have continued taking drawings which the business couldn’t afford. That is how most law firms operate and why we will see more of the same in 2017. The partners destroy a firm with their greed and ineptitude and when it’s starts to all go wrong they sneek off to another practice as if they are completely blame free…yeah just blame someone else, like the bank, for running up millions of pounds of debt which they know full well will never be repaid.


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