Denton Hall fights back as Morgan Lewis & Bockius woos high-flier

Denton Hall has managed to limit the damage from a poaching attempt by US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius of two of its highest-flying litigation partners.

Leading fraud litigation lawyer Robert Goldspink is negotiating a reduction of his nine-month notice so he can make an early start at Morgan Lewis. His colleague, rising intellectual property litigation star James Irvine, has agreed to stay, although Dentons would not say what inducements it had offered.

“Any indications that he was leaving were premature. We are delighted that James is staying with us,” was all Dentons business development head John Griffiths Jones would say.

The recruitment of Goldspink by a US firm follows The Lawyer's revelation last week that Simmons & Simmons is losing two lawyers to other US firms where their salary is being doubled. But Goldspink stressed that money had not been a factor in his departure.

“I had always made it clear that by the time I reached my mid-40s I would be looking for a change of direction,” he said.

“The whole litigation marketplace in London is going to change in the next few years with rights of audience extensions, the accountants and the Americans coming in. I decided that if I was going to be anywhere in this marketplace then being on the incoming side in an American law firm would be more exciting that being on the defensive side.”

Goldspink, who built Dentons' 24-partner litigation department from scratch after joining the firm 16 years ago, said he and Morgan Lewis' other litigation partner, Steven Loble, would be doing the same thing at the firm. Morgan Lewis plans to recruit extra litigation assistants in the near future and wants to increase its number of lawyers in London to 50.

The firm, which in the US generates around half its revenue from litigation, is one of the very few US firms in London to take on UK litigation lawyers. Last year it recruited Steven Loble from Nabarro Nathanson.