Clayton Utz is to pursue legal action against a former partner who defected to set up Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Australian practice earlier this year.
Grant Fuzi was one of 14 Clayton Utz partners who jumped ship in February when A&O opened offices in Sydney and Perth.
The Australian firm has retained a QC to assist in a dispute resolution process after it claimed that Fuzi broke a contractual agreement , according to local reports.
The claim is understood to revolve around a Aus$700,000 (£422,738) payment allegedly made to Fuzi to guarantee he would not join another firm after leaving Clayton Utz.
Fuzi has been widely viewed as the prize capture among the clutch of lawyers to join A&O in Australia. It is believed that he decided to leave Clayton Utz after being overlooked for the CEO role.
An A&O insider insisted that the firm was unconcerned about the prospect of legal action but “disappointed” by Clayton Utz’s alleged move.
“We’re pretty confident of how this is going to turn out,” said the source.
A spokesperson for the magic circle firm added: “We’re entirely happy with our position and that of all our Australian partners, who have our full support. We’re focused on the incredibly positive response from our clients and from high quality lawyers wanting to work for Allen & Overy in Australia.”