Lord Goldsmith shuns bar for Debevoise litigation role

Lord Goldsmith QC has joined US firm Debevoise & Plimpton in a move that came as of a shock to the legal community.

As reported on www. thelawyer.com (26 September), former attorney-general Goldsmith joined the firm last week in the newly created role of European chair of litigation. Based in London, he will be involved in global litigation and arbitration for Debevoise.

Goldsmith, who admitted he had been approached by a number of other US and UK firms, said he was looking forward to a fresh challenge.

“I’ve known the firm for a number of years. I don’t see it as a US firm, but a global firm that has a very successful litigation and arbitration group,” he said.

Prior to Debevoise’s announcement, it was widely anticipated that Goldsmith would rejoin Fountain Court Chambers after stepping down as attorney-general in June this year.

Fountain Court senior clerk Michael Couling said: “Lord Goldsmith has taken up a prestigious post at a major global law firm, a role that befits a lawyer of his sublime calibre. We all wish Lord Goldsmith well and look forward to working with him in the future and to developing our existing links with Debevoise & Plimpton.”

Goldsmith, who will join the firm as a salaried partner, has been invited by Debevoise to become a member of the equity partnership after completing solicitor exams. In order to do this Goldsmith will be required to officially leave the bar.

The Lawyer 200 Annual Report on law firm performance showed that, on average, equity partners in Debevoise’s London office took home a profit share of £981,000 in the last financial year.

It is expected that Goldsmith will join the equity at the top of lockstep, with the potential to pocket significantly more than the average figure.

Goldsmith said: “Taking on this challenge is not about money. I see this as a fresh challenge with a firm that’s dedicated to pro bono and public service work, which is very important to me.”

Earlier this year (24 April) The Lawyer reported on Lord Goldsmith’s speech at the House of Commons, when he welcomed the increase of pro bono work in the legal and voluntary sectors.

Having stepped down as attorney-general in June, Goldsmith remains a member of the House of Lords and a privy councillor.