Six more KWM partners find new homes at Reed Smith, Mishcon and Simmons as exits continue


Reed Smith, Mishcon de Reya and Simmons & Simmons are all set to boost their London offices with partner hires from King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) stricken European business.

Reed Smith is set to take a further three KWM partners in London, including London equity capital markets head Delphine Currie, following its recent hires of City tax head Gareth Amdor and financial regulatory partner David Calligan.

Currie, financial regulatory partner Tim Dolan and finance partner Tamasin Little are all expected to join the US firm’s London office, sources close to the matter have told Legal Week.

It is understood that the firm is also in talks with London corporate partner Mark Sanders, as well as a trio of Paris partners – international funds co-head Arnaud David, Paris tax head Sylvie Vansteenkiste and Paris-based EU, competition and regulatory head Marc Levy.

Reed Smith Europe and Middle East managing partner Tamara Box said: “We confirm that we continue to progress with very positive discussions with a number of impressive European KWM partners.

“As you would expect, we have very robust processes in place, which focus on strategic alignment and strong integration with all new partners or teams who join our firm. While we therefore still have some work to do internally to ensure all that our own procedures are fully satisfied, we remain optimistic about the potential opportunities for us to grow in London, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris through these discussions.”

Meanwhile, Mishcon is set to hire litigation partner Shaistah Akhtar. Akhtar, who joined legacy SJ Berwin in 1996, advises global investment banks, asset management firms and private equity houses. She also coordinated KWM’s investigations, fraud and compliance group.

Mishcon dispute resolution head Kasra Nouroozi said: ”Shaistah’s expertise in fraud will add weight to our practice, and her international experience will support our ongoing focus on international work in key jurisdictions across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”

She will be the third KWM partner to join Mishcon in 18 months, after intellectual property (IP) partners Ray Black and David Rose joined in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Elsewhere, Simmons is hiring another two partners from KWM – private equity funds partner Cindy Valentine and banking and finance partner Jen Yee Chan – following the firm’s hire of a three-lawyer Munich team led by IP partner Michael Knospe last November.

The duo is set to join Simmons later this month. Chan, who specialises in funds finance and general bank lending, is moving with two colleagues – of counsel Cameron Roper and supervising associate Oleksandr Pankiv.

Valentine, who covers a wide range of international funds and co-heads KWM’s Africa Group , has been a partner at the firm since 2011.

Last week, McDermott Will & Emery announced that it is hiring KWM UK, Europe and Middle East (EUME) senior partner Michael Cziesla as a corporate partner in Germany, while Willkie Farr & Gallagher is bringing in top-rated Paris investment funds co-head Nathalie Duguay.

Numerous firms have picked up partners from KWM including Baker McKenzie, Fieldfisher, Debevoise & Plimpton, Stephenson Harwood, DLA Piper, Greenberg Traurig, Macfarlanes, K&L Gates, Winston & Strawn, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Fieldfisher, Addleshaw Goddard, Covington & Burling, Keystone Law, Proskauer and Goodwin Procter.

Bakers is also in talks to take on a small number of support staff from the firm.

KWM China is in talks to keep a number of European partners, with Legal Week revealing last week that banking partner Vanessa Docherty and corporate partners Joseph Newitt, Greg Stonefield and Wang Lianghau are among those in discussions to join KWM’s Chinese arm, along with a 10-lawyer City litigation team.

Those remaining with KWM would form part of a new limited liability partnership called KWM Deutschland, which was registered by KWM on 16 December.

Filings published at Companies House today state KWM Deutschland’s listed members as EUME managing partner Tim Bednall, Cziesla and King & Wood Mallesons LLP.

According to the documents, the KWM LLP holds the right to share in “more than 25% but not more than 50%” of surplus assets in the event of KWM Deutschland ceasing business. It holds the same percentage in voting rights in KWM Deutschland and also holds “the right to appoint or remove a majority of the members who are entitled to take part in the management of the LLP”.

KWM Europe is expected to either file for administration or file another intention to appoint an administrator later today (9 January). The firm filed an intention of notice to appoint administrators on 22 December, giving it a period of 10 working days to either file for administration or resubmit its intention to do so.

Multiple sources have told Legal Week that they do not expect the firm to enter into administration today, but to instead file another intention to appoint an administrator while discussions with China and other firms continue.