Hammonds partner quits as lock-in ends

Hammonds head of real estate Chris Marks has become the first equity partner to quit following the end of the firm’s lock-in.

Marks, a partner at Hammonds since 1989, is to join the Leeds office of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary. No start date has yet been agreed.

DLA Piper Leeds real estate head Neil McLean said: “Chris can help our public sector and regeneration property practice considerably. It will help pull together our offering. He has lots of history, lots of connections and has a very substantial part of his practice based in this area.”

Marks’ resignation is a blow for Hammonds. He was listed by The Lawyer as one of the 10 partners Hammonds needed to keep to ensure its survival (17 July) because of the firm’s push into the property sector.

Marks advised the London Development Agency on the development of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in 2005. He also acted on a £200m property deal in November for a Yorkshire public sector group opposite DLA Piper’s global real estate head David Taylor.

Marks is the first equity partner to leave Hammonds since May 2005, when a 14-month lock-in was instituted to stem the tide of partner departures. More than 20 partners, both equity and salaried, quit the firm during the 2004-05 financial year.

From 1 August, equity partners will have just two days a year on which to leave the firm – 30 September and 31 March – and will have a seven-month notice period. Currently they are tied to a six-month notice period, although not all partners serve this out.

The new proposals were voted through by Hammonds’ partnership earlier this month, shortly after the firm announced a 61 per cent rise in profitability.

A Hammonds spokesperson said: “Chris has made a valuable contribution to the firm.”