Grapevine

Crowell’s UK effort comes to naught
Crowell & Moring’s supposed ‘assault’ on the UK market is showing signs of fizzling out only months after the Washington DC firm boasted of kickstarting its London operation with a new office head.

Crowell hired Pinsent Masons‘ former head of infrastructure and construction Paul Finlan in September to head its London office as part of a five-year growth plan for the UK and Europe.

However, cracks are appearing in the firm’s plans. Crowell was dealt a major blow last week when London head of funds Mark Brady jumped ship less than two years after joining the US firm from Wedlake Bell. He is returning to the comfort of a UK firm, making Eversheds his new home.

Crowell struggled to meet its five-year growth plan from the start, with 2004’s medium-term target of 20 lawyers still a long way off. The loss of Brady sees it back to just nine lawyers, of whom three are partners.

Cable & Wireless gets two-faced
Cable & Wireless’s (C&W) UK legal team is facing a degree of turmoil after the company announced it would split into two divisions earlier this month.

A former C&W lawyer tells The Lawyer that the business restructure had been considered as far back as five years ago and the legal department had since been divided into UK and international sections.

The announcement came just weeks after general counsel Andrew Garard quit the telecoms company. Garard was replaced by Nick Cooper, who was previously general counsel and company secretary of Energis, which was acquired by C&W in August 2005 for £780m.

Details of the restructure will be announced on 28 February, with sources close to the company expecting the UK legal department to be downsized as part of the review.

Cooper says the company review is still at an early stage and it is too early to comment on the future of C&W’s UK legal team. But one imagines that both C&W lawyers and their external counsel are on tenterhooks.

Denton Hall legacy turns Wilde Sapte partners green
There are all sorts of ways of keeping partners at a firm. In 1993, the former Denton Hall decided to incentivise partners to stay by allocating a pot of cash to be distributed to departing partners only if they stayed 10 more years. Wilde Sapte, meanwhile, wielded a stick rather than a carrot by allowing only two equity partners to leave in any given year.

The difference between the two approaches has become a talking point among Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) partners. Every time a legacy Denton Hall partner leaves, their former colleagues try to work out how much cash they’ve trousered. The DWS rumour mill has it that one lucky individual got a £500,000 lump sum, with others getting more than £250,000 each. (You know who you are.)

Most legacy Wilde Sapte partners know about the Denton Hall provision and were pretty envious of the payouts. But a fair few were unaware of it, despite the fact that it was lurking in the merger document.

It shows how little partners scrutinise internal accounts and leave everything up to the management. Partners are always vocal when it comes to strategy, but they’re far more reticent when it comes to the financial management of the firm that they collectively own.

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