Former KWM partners urged to donate up to £2,500 to 'hardship' fund by end of month


Around 100 former King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) partners have been called upon to contribute up to £2,500 to a hardship fund set up to assist staff affected by the collapse of the firm’s former Europe and Middle East (EUME) business.

In an email sent by former EUME managing partner Tim Bednall last week, ex-partners have been asked to donate between £1,000 and £2,500 to the fund.

Around 100 former partners were informed that the donations “should enable us to provide material assistance to those who require it”.

The fund has been set up to support staff who were on or due to start maternity leave at the time of the collapse; those who have been unable to find new jobs; and those caring for ill dependents or suffering from illness themselves.

At the time of the collapse of the legacy SJ Berwin business this January, about 20 members of staff were on maternity leave, while about another 20 had not yet lined up new roles.

The partners called on to donate money have been informed that around 20 individuals are likely to benefit from the fund, and have been asked to make their contributions by the end of May.

The three KWM lawyers leading the fundraising efforts – Bednall, EUME general counsel David Wilman and London litigation partner Darren Roiser – are hoping to make one-off payments to beneficiaries next month.

Those contacted for the appeal include former partners who were at the firm at the time of its filing for administration, as well as those who resigned in the two-month period before the collapse.

A source close to the matter estimated that between 80 and 100 people have been contacted so far, while additional former partners may also be contacted.

Legal Week revealed plans for the fund in February, when Bednall emailed former partners informing them of the initiative.

The same month, a group of around 200 former KWM employees, including lawyers, commenced legal action over the way post-administration redundancies were handled.

The staff instructed regional employment law firm Herrington Carmichael to handle the claim, which relates to KWM’s failure to enter a formal consultation process of 45 days prior to making the redundancies, which firms are required to do when making more than 100 redundancies at one time.