KWM Paris private equity team jumps to Goodwin Procter

Goodwin Procter has hired a six-partner private equity team from King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM’s) Paris office, including the local office head.

Christophe Digoy, managing partner of KWM’s Paris office and corporate co-head, is leaving with five other partners to launch the US firm’s Paris office.

Corporate partners Maxence Bloch, Jerome Jouhanneaud, William Robert, Pierre-Louis Sevegrand and Thomas Maitrejean will join Digoy at Goodwin once they have worked out their notice at KWM.

The move will see the team reunited with fellow KWM alumni Richard Lever, previously co-head of corporate, based in the legacy SJ Berwin London arm of KWM, who joined Goodwin’s City operation last April with partner Simon Fulbrook.

Goodwin chairman David Hashmall said: ”While we are initially focused on building our French private equity and M&A platform, we see in Paris attractive future opportunities that align with Goodwin’s other focus areas, including technology, life sciences, real estate and more.”

A spokesperson for KWM said: “The firm is disappointed in their decision and active steps are being taken to replace them.”

Following the six resignations 11 partners will remain at KWM’s Paris office, according to the firm’s website.

Digoy has been managing partner of KWM’s Paris office since 2012. He and Bloch joined legacy SJ Berwin as partners in 2003 from Clifford Chance, where they were involved in setting up the magic circle firm’s French private equity offering. Bloch is currently a member of KWM’s global board.

Jouhanneaud and Maitrejean also joined legacy SJ Berwin as associates in 2003. Jouhanneaud was made up as partner in 2007 and Maitrejean joined the partnership in 2009.

Pierre-Louis Sevegrand joined KWM as an associate in 2003 while William Robert joined in 2004. Both were promoted to partner in 2014.

Last month funds boutique MJ Hudson hired KWM partner Benjamin Aller, who split his time between the firm’s Paris and Dubai offices, to launch a Paris office.

News of the latest departures follows KWM’s recent announcement that it is to cut 15% of its legacy SJ Berwin partnership alongside up to 45 business service redundancies in London as it undergoes a major restructuring.

KWM’s UK arm has faced multiple issues over the last 12 months including delays in partner profit distributions and a number of high profile exits including veteran litigator Hilton Mervis who joined Arnold & Porter last month.

The firm has overhauled its UK profit distribution system to a monthly system following repeated delays to its quarterly payouts.

The first payment of the new system was made in February, before which the firm had made just 25% of the payments from the 2015-16 year (payments always relate to the prior financial year).

KWM announced today that it has retained 70% of its spring trainees. Fourteen out of 20 newly qualified lawyers have accepted a contract with the firm.