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Media firm Michael Simkins is to launch a reputation protection practice after hiring former Schillings partner Gideon Benaim.
Benaim quit Schillings in June along with senior associate Matthew Himsworth, who left to set up his own practice focusing on sports law (8 June 2012).
After spending three months on gardening leave he is set to join Michael Simkins today (3 September). He said: “The firm isn’t particularly known in reputation protection and is keen to develop in that area.”
Benaim rose to prominence at Schillings after representing a string of celebrity clients that included supermodel Naomi Campbell, footballer Ryan Giggs (2 March 2012) and Harry Potter author JK Rowling (6 April 2011).
He was named Partner of the Year at the 2008 Lawyer Awards and has since sat on several parliamentary committees advising the Government on defamation and privacy law.
Michael Simkins was launched in 2005 and has since built up a list of high-profile clients that also includes JK Rowling as well as the Universal Music Group, the International Olympic Committee and The Walt Disney Company.
Benaim said his own practice overlapped in some areas and the aim was to further develop a reputation protection practice that is fit for purpose in the post-Leveson era.
Media lawyers are anticipating further legislative reforms in media law following Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into media practices in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Benaim commented: “It’s Simkins’ goal to be at the forefront of that development, providing carefully considered and practical advice to our individual and corporate clients and their PR advisers.”
He added that the decision to leave Schillings came after he had spent 13 years with the firm, during which time he enjoyed a “golden era”.
Schillings has been working for some time to broaden its practice base beyond media-related work in anticipation of the introduction of cost-capping on defamation cases (10 August 2009).
Former managing partner Simon Smith, who represented golfer Tiger Woods, left the firm in January 2012 to launch his own boutique (12 January 2010).
Simkins, meanwhile, has looked to bulk up and last year hired Eversheds media head Patrick Gardiner to run its dispute resolution practice (20 January 2011).