Herbert Smith's managing partner leapt to the defence last week of new partner Malcolm Hitching (aka John Arne Riise) after he allegedly sent mobile phone text messages to 15 glamorous, unattached acquisition finance assistants and associates offering them a job. "Yes, John is on the lookout for a new team," said David 'Rafa' Gold, "but he's a new partner and needs to build critical mass. I just can't understand any single solicitor being upset." Hitching, who has a reputation in negotiations as a bit of a left-sided defender and who split from long-term team Norton Rose in November 2003, has since become a key part of Herbert Smith's drive to build its finance division. He's particularly famous for his wicked left foot - and nimble texting fingers.