O’Melveny puts brave face on Kavanagh exit

The new head of O’Melveny & Myers’ London litigation group David Foster mounted a bullish defence of his firm’s disputes capability in the City last week following the exit of partner David Kavanagh to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

The new head of O’Melveny & Myers’ London litigation group David Foster mounted a bullish defence of his firm’s disputes capability in the City last week following the exit of partner David Kavanagh to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.

Foster, who joined O’Melveny from Watson Farley & Williams along with Kavanagh less than two years ago, argued that the departure of one partner would not be a major setback to his firm’s ambitions of growing a significant litigation team in London.

“We wish David well, but we’re a litigation leviathan worldwide,” said Foster. “We have four times the litigation capability of Herbert Smith and almost 60 per cent of the firm’s global revenue is derived from dispute resolution. I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll successfully continue to build the litigation practice.

“The current market is a very good one for laterals because there are so many people being shaken out of so many good firms. It’s a great opportunity to recruit.”

Foster’s conviction was not mirrored by several sources close to O’Melveny, however, who see the exit of Kavanagh as yet another blow in the attempts by the West Coast US firm to build its presence in the City.

“There’s no doubt the loss of Kavanagh is a huge body blow to O’Melveny and its ambitions to build a London disputes capability,” said one. “They see it as a key part of the international practice. There’s no doubt that they’re strong in litigation and arbitration in the US and in places like China, but London?”