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WilmerHale was hit by a thunderbolt late last Friday (9 February) when its three leading corporate partners quit to help set up the London office of US firm Heller Ehrman. See story.
For partners Richard Eaton, Christopher Grew and Struan Penwarden it makes perfect sense to work for a firm that could have been set up in their own image.
Heller is a West Coast corporate law firm that focuses on emerging technology and life sciences companies and venture capitalists. In stunning contrast, WilmerHale is an East Coast firm which focuses on technology and life sciences.
Not much change there, then.
Heller is on both coasts, which proved to be a draw, but the main difference is that WilmerHale is going through a turbulent time. The Washington DC firm is in the midst of a massive strategic overhaul, which saw it junk its Munich office at the end of last year.
Its London office will no doubt end up as a hub for its regulatory team rather than exist as a meaningful standalone business. With its European practice in meltdown, WilmerHale will have to make the best of a bad job.