Top level exits continue as BLP tax litigation head joins Clifford Chance

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) contentious tax head Liesl Fichardt has become the latest partner exit the firm after being hired by Clifford Chance.

Fichardt will join the magic circle firm as a partner in the London tax practice. She focuses on tax litigation and has advised many organisations and high net worth individuals on a number of tax and VAT disputes and tax tribunal cases.

Clifford Chance global tax head David Harkness said in a statement: “The current tax environment is becoming ever more complex for large organisations as they face greater amounts of legislation, including the General Anti Avoidance Rule, an enhanced disclosure regime and shifting public and government expectations.

“As a result we are seeing increasing demand from clients for advice and help on resolving their tax disputes.”

Fichardt had practiced as a tax barrister for 13 years before joining Dorsey & Whitney in 2006 and moving to BLP in 2008.

The news follows the high-level exit of global private equity head Raymond McKeeve from BLP to join Jones Day last month (20 August 2013). Widely regarded as a leading private equity rainmaker, McKeeve advised a number of private equity houses, sovereign wealth funds and their investee companies including Backstone, Darwin and Intermediate Capital Group.

Earlier this week, Mishcon de Reya raided the firm for head of the information law unit, Adam Rose (2 September 2013). Rose joined Mishcon after 23 years with BLP.

BLP’s revenue fell by 5 per cent in 2012/13, from £246m to £233m. It is yet to announce its net profit or profit per equity partner (19 July 2013). In 2011/12, turnover rose 10 per cent from £229m to £246m. However, average PEP dropped seven per cent over the same period, from £712,000 to £660,000.

On 14 May the firm kicked off a redundancy consultation, which concluded in July with the firm cutting more than 100 jobs. The firm said it had reached its “target number” of redundancies – a total amounting to 58 legal staff and 44 secretarial staff (5 July 2013).

For more on the latest exits from BLP read our analysis: Room at the top