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KWM left rudderless after trio of senior resignations
22 January 2016
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Three senior members of KWM's London management team have all stepped down.

Last October Finance Director Simon Gill left the firm, shortly followed by COO Rachel Reid. It's not clear why they left or where Gill has ended up, but Reid is off to Taylor Wessing. A spokeswoman wouldn't comment on the reason for the departures.

The firm then announced that William Boss, its European Managing Partner, was stepping down after less than a year in the role. He will return to fee earning in April. Again, KWM would only give an anodyne statement that Boss's "return to full time practice will allow him to focus on delivering first class client service to some of the firm’s key clients". There's no explanation as to why he decided to draw stumps after such a short time at the crease.

    William Boss yesterday

The last couple of years have not been easy for the firm's London office. It sacrificed its SJ Berwin name, losing overnight what had been a very strong City brand and replacing it with one which was unfamiliar to pretty much anyone in Europe. As one partner commented to RoF, "we're the biggest firm that no one's ever heard of".

Management was, to put it kindly, unorthodox. London failed to replace its HR Director when she resigned.  It didn't have a Head of Comms. The firm's new bosses announced that they would be booting out large numbers of underperforming partners. Those who remained were less than delighted at the prospect of their client files being made available to hundreds of lawyers in China who had sworn oaths of allegiance to the Communist Party. They also had their distributions deferred from August to December. The firm denied that this had anything to do with cashflow problems and gave this rather opaque statement by way of explanation:

"We are actively discussing a range of initiatives with our partners as part of the ongoing modernisation programme introduced to the EUME practice last year. These include the global 2020 strategy for the firm, as well as a number of integration steps. These discussions include the appropriate long term partner capital and funding structure of our Europe and global operations."

For such a blue chip firm it all looks pretty chaotic. Expect to see a raft of new appointments this year and far more involvement from Asia.


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anonymous user
22/01/2016 09:09
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Merger not such a great idea now huh? No one would touch the HR job - it was the most well known poisoned chalice in the sector. Not sure the "superstar" COO left a much of a legacy? No FD, No HR, no Comms, no MP no profits and no reputation.

anonymous user
22/01/2016 10:05
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There's plenty of profits and revenues mate!!! Rumour mills is PEP up 40% which given revenues were up a metric f-ton and salaries were 1% up for the worker bees I can believe... Also they've definitely left a legacy - in fact their so good and cuts I'd imagine George Osborne is teeing them up to be treasury advisors!!!
anonymous user
22/01/2016 10:49
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"There's plenty of profits" "metric f-ton" "their so good". Anon 10.05 - wordcraft, spelling and even basic grammar are clearly not pre-requisites where you plough your furrow.

I have no doubt, from a strictly mathematical point of view, that PEP will increase dramatically (albeit in the short term) where a firm suddenly sheds lots of equity partners. Lose 50% of equity partners, for instance, and you have an instant 100% increase in PEP. What a brilliant strategy - at this rate PEP will be soaring.
anonymous user
22/01/2016 23:23
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This is what happen when you jump in bed with the Chinese... Look at how Herbies and Ashurst did their mergers - at least they preserved their independence.
anonymous user
25/01/2016 09:22
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Merger, Chinese partners...? Partial explanations only, at best. Olswang had not merged with anyone and had no partners in China - and they had no choice but to oust their CEO and his buddies. As usual, the main issues at stake are the financial results and the lack of transparency of the management teams.