Grapevine

Arsenal fan Boardman defects to Spurs

Shocking news from North London. Arsenal fan and Slaughter and May corporate partner Nigel Boardman is advising the football club’s bitter rival Tottenham Hotspur on Chelsea’s allegedly illegal approach for Spurs sporting director Frank Arnesen. He is also Arsenal’s de facto general counsel.

“I’ve never been a great one for hate in football. The chant ‘stand up if you hate Tottenham’ has always made me cringe,” Boardman says.
Chelsea’s lawyers will be sick of the sight of Boardman after accusing him of assisting the Premier League inquiry into Chelsea’s illegal approach to Arsenal’s Ashley Cole.

Boardman insists that this is not a new speciality for him. Chelsea and any other would-be poachers should be careful, though. Boardman doesn’t do losing. When he warns, “I hope there’ll be no more ‘tapping up’ inquiries after this one”, he suggests that he doesn’t intend to lose this one either.

Lovells’ labour lost

Lovells, Merrill Lynch’s longstanding employment adviser, has lost its role defending the bank against former in-house lawyer Elizabeth Weston, who is suing for unfair treatment.

It is the second time in a year that Weston has sued Merrill Lynch: last July she settled a discrimination claim for a reported £1m, and now she’s back for more. But Lovells is not acting this time round. The firm says it has been conflicted out because details of last year’s settlement, on which partner David Harper acted, may be brought up in this case.

So step forward Herbert Smith partner Peter Frost, in what is believed to be the first employment instruction for the firm from Merrill Lynch.

Lovells, however, retains its position defending the bank against Stephanie Villalba’s ongoing £7.5m discrimination claim. That makes the busiest person in this whole saga Fountain Court’s Nicholas Underhill QC, who by dint of not being instructed in last year’s Weston claim has now bagged himself the role of lead counsel on both the Villalba and Weston cases.

Eversheds’ Brummies lacking boss

The shakedown in Eversheds’ Birmingham office continues following a review last year which saw the Midlands region brought under the control of the Cardiff office. Eversheds claims the move was designed to streamline management and free up partners to do more “client-facing” work. But a steady stream of departing associates has claimed that the Birmingham office was incapable of managing itself and could do with some Welsh efficiency.

The return of former Birmingham head Meg Heppell to the fee-earning ranks is thought to have put some noses out of joint. Indeed, it wasn’t long before retail property head Simon Boss jumped ship for Shoosmiths, taking with him another bunch of Brummie associates. Former Birmingham real estate head Mary Daunt soon followed Boss out the door after Heppell nabbed her role as Midlands real estate head.

While a divided partnership has bought into the national leadership, it will take more than Welsh grit to control troublesome Birmingham. Watch this space for more departures.