The official line on Gordon’s departure is that he left on Friday (8 March) by mutual agreement and that the move comes as a result of internal firmwide cost-cutting exercises.
His position in the UK as worldwide head of legal will not be filled. Instead, the work will be taken up by Valerie Gentile Sachs, who is the current senior legal counsel for Marconi in the US, which also covers Canada. A spokesperson for Marconi said that Sachs has no intention of re-locating to the UK. Instead, she will perform the task from her base in Cleveland, Ohio.
Gordon left Mayer Brown & Platt (now Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw) in the summer of 1999 to join Marconi. “His role’s changed since he’s been there,” said a partner at one of Marconi’s external firms. “He’s seen a refocus of the business that most lawyers would have to wait 10 or 20 years to witness. He’s had that experience in two years. It’s currently no longer a role that requires strategic planning on the building up of the business.”
Marconi was forced to sell off its non-core assets and cut costs dramatically due to mounting debt.
Marconi’s external firms consist of Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, which acted on the Reltec acquisition and also on the sale of Marconi’s optical components unit to Bookham Technology this year. In the UK it primarily uses Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May for corporate work. Allen & Overy is also on board, and is currently acting on Marconi’s restructuring deal with its bankers.
Regional firms, including DLA, are also instructed.
According to one source, Gordon encouraged his junior lawyers to use firms that they were comfortable with, as long as the decision was cost-effective. The extent to which Sachs will maintain this procedure is not known.
Sachs has a legal team of around 10 to rely on in the UK, including Clifford Samuel, Will Johnson and Chris Evans.
Marconi is essentially a European operation. “There will surely be pressure on her to be around the European executives that need her counsel,” said a partner at one of Marconi’s firms.
Gordon has not ann-ounced where he will be going next.