Fighting talk from Harris as Latham confirms Lovells raid

Lovells managing partner David Harris has vowed to stop the rot after Latham & Watkins confirmed the appointment of two partners from Lovells’ tax practice, first revealed by www.thelawyer.com (21 February).

Harris said in a prepared statement: “We have had several departures recently and we take them very seriously, both individually and collectively. These departures are of course very disappointing but also somewhat ironic, given that so many people in the firm have worked hard to get the business into the right shape for the future and that our performance in the current financial year is so much better than it was last year.”

“They will not affect our determination to drive forward the development of our international tax practice,” he added.

Lovells’ head of international tax Daniel Friel and junior tax partner Sean Finn resigned this morning (24 February).

Friel, who was appointed as head of the tax practice last November, counts drinks giant SABMiller and ITV as clients. Finn, meanwhile, works very closely with Lovells’ outgoing City private equity practice.

The potential departures will be a further blow to Lovells, which recently lost private equity partners Marco Compagnoni and Derek Baird to Weil Gotshal & Manges and Allen & Overy (A&O) respectively.

The move leaves Lovells with five tax partners in London. The firm has already started consulting appointing a new practice head and is expected to announce Friel’s replacement within a fortnight.

The appointment of Friel and Finn will take Latham’s European tax department to 18 lawyers.