BLG’s big-hitters turn into quitters

Things are looking grim for Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG). With partners leaving left, right and centre, BLG could find itself saddled with the tag ‘the new Norton Rose‘. Luckily the figures aren’t quite so bad that it inherits the really unwanted sobriquet ‘the new Hammonds’.

Last week BLG’s financial services regulatory chief Chris Warren-Smith upped and left for US firm Fulbright & Jaworski to head its international financial services disputes practice (, 17 August). He is just the latest in a line of big-hitting partners to leave BLG this summer.

In less than two months, aviation boutique Gates & Partners poached BLG’s Singapore boss David Johnston to head its new base in the region and corporate partner Jonathan Deverill defected to Canadian firm Stikeman Elliot.

These losses add to the swathe of partners that have divorced the firm earlier this year, including corporate partners John Cadman and Peter Hill for CMS Cameron McKenna.

Unlike most of the previous departees, Warren-Smith does not hail from the firm’s shrinking transactional practice, but the regulatory group, which is definitely a core business. Regulation is an increasingly important part of litigation and, as the boss, and with experience of the Barings Bank and Maxwell fallouts, Warren-Smith will be sorely missed.