The City’s banks are clamouring for the cream of Lehman Brothers’ in-house lawyers, with many setting up special processes to deal with the demand.
In a bid to stop opportunistic headhunting at Canary Wharf, JPMorgan has emailed a memo to recruitment consultants, asking them to stop forwarding CVs from Lehman, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, unless specifically requested.
JPMorgan is actively recruiting Lehman lawyers, but has been overwhelmed with CVs in the past week and wants to avoid potential disputes over recruiter commissions.
The bank told recruiters that within the recent market turmoil and an “unprecedented set of circumstances” in the job market, it was doing all it could to manage that process.
A spokesman for JPMorgan said: “The bank remains committed to investing in talent and we’re doing the best that we can to identify people to fill positions where necessary.”
Credit Suisse has set up a separate recruitment stream for ;Lehman ;lawyers, instructing recruiters to separate and highlight the Lehman candidates’ CVs. Several other banks’ in-house legal departments are known to be considering making offers to key legal staff.
Lehman’s in-house legal team employs at least 70 lawyers who are still working at the bank assisting PwC with the administration process.
Linklaters is in line to bill up to £20m on the UK side of the Lehman Brothers insolvency as the administration moves into its second week.
Linklaters insiders are predicting that, because of the complexity of unravelling the counterparty agreements on derivatives trades, the firm’s fees could rival some of the biggest insolvency billings since Marconi. Within ;five ;days Linklaters increased the number of partners working on the deal from eight to 20.
Some 60 associates are already ;involved, ;but Linklaters sources predict that number will rise to 100 lawyers in a matter of weeks.
Linklaters and Price-waterhouseCoopers advised on Enron earlier this decade. Other firms to have racked up large insolvency fees in the last decade include: Allen & Overy, which billed £31m on Marconi and £10m on Drax; Clifford Chance, which billed £20m on British Energy and £10m on Marconi; and Lovells, which got the lion’s share of the £100m legal fees billed over the 12 years of the BCCI liquidation.
Lovells has benefited from an Ashurst conflict to scoop the Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) Lehman Brothers mandate, just as the FSA is set to finalise its first legal panel.
Ashurst is acting for several of Lehman’s healthier business arms, clearing the way for Lovells to advise the FSA on Lehman’s administration application. Ashurst is the FSA’s go-to adviser, but more than 20 firms have applied for a place on the FSA’s first panel, which should be completed by the end of the year.
FSA chief counsel Greg Choyce said: “We’re not sure yet how many firms will be on the panel.”