KWM takes up flash new office space in ‘Walkie-Talkie’ — 18 months after UK arm’s catastrophic collapse

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By Thomas Connelly on

Sixty trainees lost their jobs

London’s Walkie-Talkie building

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has taken on new office space in London’s landmark ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building — just over 18 months after its UK operations went into administration.

The firm’s new City office will occupy roughly 17,000 sq ft of the skyscraper’s 11th floor and will accommodate 13 partners. KWM said its Fenchurch Street digs — already home to firms including national outfit DWF and US player Vinson & Elkins — will help “further growth, predominately across its corporate, banking and finance and dispute resolution practices.”

The office move comes on the back of a turbulent two or so years for the firm.

In January 2017 and after much press speculation, KWM’s UK arm officially entered into administration. But thanks to a rescue mission first revealed by Legal Cheek, all the firm’s 60 or so stranded trainees were taken on elsewhere.

Lawyer hopefuls who had training contract offers on the table (but were awaiting start dates) were not so lucky. Having had their offers revoked, Legal Cheek understands that the vast majority had to undertake the dreaded application process all over again.

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However, just a day after formally appointing administrators, KWM confirmed it had “established a new business to maintain a strategic presence” in the City. This was possible because China-led KWM Global has always been a separate legal entity to KWM UK.

Putting the past firmly behind it, KWM also confirmed the arrival of three new partners. Ex-Withers regulatory specialist Alix Prentice, Mark Schaub, a foreign investment lawyer who will be relocating from KWM’s Shanghai office, and dispute resolution partner Meg Utterback.

Overseeing things at the top will be KWM’s new London managing partner Darren Roiser. He spent six years at magic circle player Slaughter and May before joining KWM as a senior associate in 2011. He was elevated to partner in May 2016, just months before the firm’s UK arm went under. Rosier, who will serve a three-year term, helped coordinate a fundraising campaign to assist staff following the collapse.

Commenting on his appointment, Roiser said:

“I am delighted to take on the role of managing partner but also humbled by the support I have received from my partners in London and across the wider KWM network. The move to the new office together with the addition of three outstanding and experienced partners, with their strong international and Chinese connections, underlines KWM’s commitment to and on-going investment in our London practice.”

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