White & Case loses another partner as A&O swoops in New York

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  • Oh dear. With David Evans leaving the employment group in London as well, Oliver is going to be busy with interviewing, "managing" and fee-earning. Hang on though, I don't see a huge queue at the door, not trying to get in anyway.

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  • It is telling that the "diversity executive partner" has gone. After the last round of redundancies in London, just (a) how many non-white/non-males are there among the surviving lawyers (especially at senior level) and (b) how many fewer would there be if those who took voluntary redundancy hadn't? Support staff and cleaners don't count towards making an organisation diverse. It's helpful that so many men have left in the last two weeks - is that the new diversity drive?

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  • I imagine she could no longer keep a straight face when picking up those diversity "awards". Have the people who decide who should get them ever been to a W&C office or, better still, a Partner's Retreat? Were it not for the ladies who (very deservedly) now run what's left of the London Banking group, even more money could be saved by making all the toilets standing room only and the trainees' and secretaries' desks moved into the now vacant facilities.

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  • Another highly regarded partner who started at W&C leaves the firm. What is going on? Stable firms do not loose a dozen or more such partners in a few weeks (from so many different offices and practices) without something bigger going on. Where and when does it end? Coudert, anyone? How many other partner CVs are out there?

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  • Lady Godiva, you obviously haven't been to a W&C office recently either. The cuts you mention (and many many more) have already been made as part of the firm's determination last year to make sure the recession only hit those who have worked the hardest for W&C's (and some individual partners') benefit over the years but are least able to afford to lose their income now (and are likely to struggle the most to find new jobs at the worst possible time), whilst keeping up the profit share for those who could really afford to give up some of their excess for a while. Of course, PEP has to be maintained to attract and retain the best talent for when the recession ends. How is that working out by the way Hugh?

    Norton Rose (and others) have demonstrated that it is possible to share the pain, if not equally, at least equitably. They are now fully staffed, rested, team spirited and with morale high ready to reap the benefits as the market picks up. The fact that W&C is in the exact opposite position, shows, whether you are Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim (not that many of you still at W&C probably are), karma, mazal or kismet gets you in the end. For the benefit of the (much more common) wasps at W&C, it just good old fashioned "serves you right"!

    I hope clients consider how their advisors treat their staff in hard times when deciding where that next instruction goes. As for the remaining W&C partners, get your capital out quick guys while you still can and I'll see you at the job centre.

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  • Perhaps Ms Johnston was embarrassed by the pronounced lack of diversity in the W&C London office and left to find a challenge she stood a fighting chance of succeeding at. As W&C don’t seem to be forthcoming with statistics they don’t like, maybe we can try to look at the make-up of the London office using information on the public record. The following percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number so lawyers can follow them:
    When the W&C London LLP was formed in 2006, it had 59 initial partners, of whom 10 were women (17%) and 4 (7%) were non-white (on a broad view of ethnicity).
    As of 31 December 2009, there were c.60 partners, of whom 5 (8%) were women and 7 (12%) were non-white. Since then a woman has left but one has also been made up so there has been no change in the gender percentages although this has reduced the non-white count by 1 to 6 (10%).
    So, the numbers (in general terms) indicate that there are now 50% fewer female partners in London than there were 4 years ago but 50% more of the partners are non-white. US firms in London tend to do worse than their UK competitors but W&C does particularly badly for females at Partner level. 2009 saw the gender gap widen at the fastest rate since the LLP was formed as 4 female partners left the London partnership with just 1 joining. Only W&C management know for sure why that is but we can all speculate.
    The percentages actually reveal the unfortunate fact that, in actual terms, the number of women has fallen from a pitiful number to an atrocious one (from 10 down to 5) and the number of non-white partners has only gone up from 4 to 6. In fact, these statistics may actually suggest a better position than is really the case. Two of the female partners are also in the non-white category so the number of white males is even higher than may first appear from the numbers. The UK average for female partners in law firms is 18% and it’s 2% for non-white partners. So it appears that it’s the ladies that are losing out at W&C. Before I hear screams about the nature of the practice and the location in the City, Linklaters (who I am sure W&C would love to be) have 23% of women amongst the partners in the London office (47 out of 201) and 5% are non-white (10 out of 201). Herbert Smith’s London Partners are also around the same numbers – 25% female, 13% non-white. Herbert Smith publish very colourful pie charts on their web-site to show all this as well. Come on W&C, why not do the same?
    I won’t bore you with the trend calculations for Associates but, as of now, approximately 43% are female (the number dropping as seniority increases) and c.11% are non-white. From a comparison of the make up of the Associate pool as of this time last year (downloaded from copies of the W&C web-site from that time on www.archive.org) it appears that the percentages of women and non-whites has fallen over the last 12 months, for reasons we again can only speculate about. The female to male ratio for Associates at White & Case in London is almost the reverse that of Herbert Smith’s London office. As female numbers fall with seniority, it doesn’t look like the female partner number is in danger of being improved soon and W&C don’t seem to often hire female Partners laterally either. In fact, it appears that Latham & Watkins have done more to increase the female to male partner ratio in the last four weeks than W&C have done in the last four years (by reducing the number of male partners in London by 5 so increasing the female partner percentage by 1 to 9%).
    I wanted to try to extend my analysis to include sexual orientation but it wasn't immediately obvious from the photos on the W&C web-site which of the woman played pool or could drive a bus nor if any of the men were wearing fishnets under their trousers, had a pet chihuahua at home and went by the name of Veronica at weekends (things I hear at least one current W&C partner would prefer gays to be like as at least they would know what they were dealing with before accidentally letting them into the Partnership). Don’t worry, I have noticed a few of the Associates with suspicious haircuts, pink shirts and diamante cufflinks and have sent their names to personnel to monitor closely. Can’t have any more mistakes, especially with all those empty offices in the Middle East to staff.
    If W&C want to refute/explain any of these numbers, I am sure we would all love to hear from them.

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  • How many days will we go without a new report of a W&C partner leaving? Maybe HV next; am pretty sure EB must be wondering.

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  • My my my, how the tides have turned.
    Oliver ...... what will one do now? Who is there left to be made redundant? Oh, thats right..... only white men......... the ethnics have left the building....

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  • Mr Brettle what a great advert for your firm since you taken over, isn't it????????

    Redundancy is always a bitter pill to swallow whichever round, the second, third or more. These things always come don't they?

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  • Many of the partners (both male and female) that left in 2009 and this year were amongst the best lawyers at W&C. Whilst there is still some talent in the partnership, most of those that remain are either just good at marketing or mates with Hugh Verrier.

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