Andersen Legal senior partner Williams in last-ditch scramble to save forty-four jobs
Andersen Legal managing partner Tony Williams is understood to be trying to secure places for his London trainees with City firms. It looks unlikely that Garretts will secure a firmwide merger and Williams has moved to safeguard his trainees' futures. Garretts currently has 44 trainees, 23 of whom are in London. Two years worth of London trainees may need training contracts elsewhere if the London office of Garretts fails to do a single merger or a series of mergers, allowing them to join a new firm. It seems likely that Garretts' regional offices will be taken on as going concerns by other firms. Verity Chase, chair of the Trainee Solicitors' Group, said the position of Garretts trainees was very worrying in light of the current competition for training contracts. "Not only will this be a real disruption to their career, but it will put the trainees in yet more debt," she commented. Christopher Digby-Bell, the Law Society Council member for the City of London, said: "My expectation is that Garretts will do the right thing and place their trainees in firms where they can continue their careers properly. But it will be difficult." It is understood that Williams has dedicated some time to trying to secure places for his trainees. A Garretts spokesman said: "We're exploring a number of options for all our staff, including trainees and those with training contracts. We'd characterise our discussions as making soundings and, before any decisions are taken, we'll talk to our own people and arrive at a decision at the appropriate time." There has been a groundswell of support for Andersen Legal and a range of firms have made positive comments to The Lawyer. Herbert Smith worldwide practice partner Richard Fleck told The Lawyer: "We're pretty sure that in this type of unprecedented situation, all the firms who could would try to help out - it's a form of corporate citizenship. We'd certainly look at any sort of applicant of the sort who would have had Herbert Smith in mind when making applications." A Clifford Chance spokesperson endorsed the principle and said the firm would look at appropriate applications. Nabarro Nathanson senior partner Simon Johnstone said: "We have a lot of sympathy, and what's happened certainly isn't the fault of the trainees. We'd help if we could." KLegal managing partner Nick Holt said: "In the current environment, I'd look favourably on any proposals." Philip Stopford, the training partner for White & Case, said: "We have an active and successful training programme which is currently full. If there was somebody from Andersens who fitted our requirements and was the kind of person we'd normally have taken on, then under those circumstances we would look at them."