Buchanan London chief joins mass exodus with defection to Theodores

Buchanan Ingersoll’s managing partner in London Kier Barrie has become the latest partner to leave the US firm

Barrie has opted for a return to a UK firm. As revealed on www.thelawyer. com/lawyernews, he will join Theodore Goddard to head its private equity practice.
Barrie said: “I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I am looking forward to working at Theodore Goddard.”
Buchanan has been haemorrhaging partners since the firm’s top brass in the US decided to change the strategy for the London office. According to director of operations Marion Dunn, the office has been pared down to concentrate on partner Steven Blair’s insurance and reinsurance practice. It will also continue to service corporate work coming in from the US.
As a result of the decision to focus on just two key areas, partners brought in to the office when the aim was to offer a full-service capability are no longer needed. A source at the firm said that it had grown too quickly and that bolting on practice groups simply had not worked. It was an unsustainable strategy that had to be reconsidered.
Dunn said: “We’re looking forward to a slower growth in future, based on a small profitable core.”
Short of pulling out of the UK entirely, this is downsizing at its most extreme. In the short term, Buchanan’s London office will not employ any associates and at the moment only one remains.
Barrie is the second managing partner to leave Buchanans in less than a year. He stepped into the breach when Barry Francis left the firm for Pinsent Curtis Biddle. Francis’s PFI practice was the first victim of Buchanan’s decision to rationalise its London office.
Three other PFI partners – Diane Wilson, David Hartley and Michael Park – left the firm for Addleshaw Booth & Co and Lawrence Bruce moved to Field Fisher Waterhouse.
Barrie’s departure follows hot on the heels of Peter Brazel and George Gardiner, who both moved to Stephenson Harwood last month. The pair joined former Buchanan’s tax partner Jenny Cottrell who made her move earlier in the year.
In March, The Lawyer reported that Buchanan’s London office no longer had US-law capability on the ground following the departure of US partners Jerome Mansmann and John Muolo for rival Cleveland firm Reed Smith Warner Cranston.
As partner numbers continue to shrink, those left at Buchanan are Steven Blair, Jonathan Griffiths, David Halliday and Rupert Jones.