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

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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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20 Comments

citylaw

Personally I wouldn’t touch KWM with a barge-pole. They’ve been trying (desperately) to recruit laterals for months.

(45)(0)

Anonymous

Those 60 trainees and other countless support staff have had their lives and careers fvcked by the greed of the partners.

And now they are paying £££££ in rent each month for some glam office.

Unbelievable

(33)(1)

The man on the Clapham omnibus

Important to remember that (one of) the problem(s) for KWM was their “growth for the sake of growth” attitude when merging with the already troubled SJ Berwin in 2013.

An example being that, post-merger, the influx of work form China was having to be done at a more than 80% discount and it got to the point where KWM were so unprofitable that they could barely even afford stationary. After months of throwing good money after bad, the few remaining equity partners (and Barclays) pulled the plug.

And so, the phoenix rises. Perhaps one of the key lessons to be learnt is big is not always beautiful and that big is not always safe. It is often assumed that the bigger the better and that there is safety in numbers. Clearly, that does not appear to have been the case with KWM.

DLA, Dentons, Freshfields – they’re all great, but just because a firm is massive does not insulate it from the effects of poor management decisions, an incoherent firm culture and/or perverse employee incentives (all of which were present prior to KWM’s initial collapse.

(28)(3)

Anonymous

If I remember correctly the sixty trainees got jobs at different firms. Enough scaremongering there’s good in this world.

That line ‘sixty trainees lost their jobs’ has too much shock value (like the scum newspaper the sun)

(9)(2)

Optional

The tag-line is misleading, but it’s Tommy C… what did you expect?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Such an utterly shet shop, a complete non-entity. They’ll fit in nicely with DWF in the tumescent building.

(12)(5)

Anonymous

But DWF was so sensible paying £60k for claims handlers to push paper there while the NQ’s worked hard for less money.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

NQs in their London office now earn £64k at DWF

(3)(1)

US NQ

BIG DOLLA

(7)(2)

Anonymous

He said “Was, not “Is.

Get your tenses right.

(3)(0)

Irwin Mitchell B!TCH

Even I wouldn’t consider moving there.

(16)(0)

Terry

Disgusting – they should have paid there debts off first.
Another new office trouble is the foundations of this company are built on sand.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Lolzies- their, not there. How dumb r u sun?

(3)(4)

Terry

Lolzies – I may be dumb but i’ m not a bully like you – tosser

Lolzies … are you a KWM partner!

(4)(1)

Anonymous

You mad bro?

Dumbo

(3)(0)

Terry

Fuck off

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Triggered Dumbo

Triggggggggggered!!!!

Get back to volume insurance work for your DWF masters.

(6)(0)

Name (optional)

How badly would things have to be going for you that KWM 2.0 would be an option?

(6)(0)

DWF

We are looking forward to speaking with KWM on potential merger opportunities now that we are going to share offices in the same greenhouse.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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