White & Case faces walkout as top partners move to quit

White & Case faces walkout as top partners move to quit” /> White & Case is facing an unprecedented rebellion in its London office over New York’s management approach, as two of its most successful finance partners prepare to quit if their views are not heard.

Co-head of global banking Maurice Allen and partner Mike Goetz are understood to be in advanced talks with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, although a vote is yet to be taken at the magic circle firm.

White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier, who was a surprise winner of the management election last year, flew into London two weeks ago for a crunch meeting with London practice heads. Another meeting with key personnel is being scheduled imminently.

The disagreements centre on the perceived lack of voice that the London office has within the global management structure, while it is also understood that London is demanding more independence over its strategic decisions in key areas such as Asia and Russia.

A White & Case partner told The Lawyer: “The practice outside New York is the real driver of business – the increase in revenue is down to London, Frankfurt and Paris. London is a fantastic success story, but we have no management say at all.

“Maurice is being painted as the bad guy, but the dissatisfaction and unrest are not just London-based.”

Another partner said: “The firm knows that the London office is generally not happy and it’s been made quite clear [to New York] that people will leave if things don’t change.”

Verrier was appointed last summer after a prolonged management limbo at the firm.

Freshfields has emerged as the strongest suitor for Allen and Goetz, who have had meetings with a series of partners at the magic circle firm.

A source close to Freshfields said: “It’s something that would be well received and it’s a real affirmation – it shows we’re taking finance seriously.”

In 2007, White & Case’s London banking and capital markets team accounted for some $120m (£59.82m) of the London office’s total revenue of $235m (£117.5m). London revenues grew 37 per cent in 2007, while average UK profit per equity partner rose 19 per cent to $1.53m (£765,000).

Maurice Allen and White & Case declined to comment. Goetz could not be reached for comment.