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Three Linklaters associates from Portugal have spoken out for the first time after the firm claimed it had sacked them following the discovery of their plans to defect to a competitor.
The former Linklaters associates today (10 May) issued a statement in which they say that the lawyers have, in fact, "decided to leave".
Banking lawyer Antonio Payan Martins, tax lawyer Patrick De Werbe and Francisco Almeida in capital markets said: "Linklaters is a great firm and we are proud of having been part of the team. Despite having been asked to stay with the firm we have decided to leave.
"We left Linklaters of our own free will to pursue another project with José Luis Esquível and António Andrade de Matos, former managing associates at Linklaters, who also left the firm voluntarily last January. We wish our former colleagues all the best."
As www.thelawyer.com revealed yesterday, a document called Project Iberia was found saved on the desktop of one of Linklaters' laptops, which detailed how the associates would leave the firm to launch a new office with a "major international firm".
Jorge Bleck, Linklaters' corporate head in Portugal, said the associates were given 24 hours to reaffirm their commitment to Linklaters but failed to do so and were asked to leave.