DWS fails to stem exits as veteran heads for Addleshaws

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) has lost its fourteenth partner this year as former head of dispute resolution Mark Gill quits to join Addleshaw Goddard.

Gill, who has been with the firm since 1979 and is a legacy Wilde Sapte lawyer, is also taking senior lawyer Michael Barnett, who joins Addleshaws as a partner. Both lawyers specialise in financial litigation.

DWS chief executive How-ard Morris said: “The firm’s moving on and we have no concerns about his departure.”

However, a source familiar with DWS described Gill as a “bedrock of loyalty”. DWS has failed to halt the partner exits, which rose to over 20 last year and number 14 since January. Most recently, ex-managing partner Stephen Blakeley, another long-serving Wilde Sapte lawyer, left for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

A spokesperson for DWS denied that there was a policy to actively decrease the partnership, but admitted that the firm’s realignment along sector lines, introduced two years ago, has not suited all partners. The spokesperson said: “If some partners can’t adjust, then it’s better that they’re elsewhere.”

Addleshaws’ appointments of Gill and Barnett are part of the firm’s strategy to ramp up its City-based disputes capability and follow the hire of Lovells corporate partner Charles Penney, also into the London office.

Despite the exodus, it is not all one-way traffic: DWS has taken its first step into the real estate investment trust market. The firm has recruited Hong Kong-based Linklaters partner Christopher Stonehill into its London office.