Hammonds loses insolvency partner to SJ Berwin

Hammonds has lost its first fixed-share equity partner since the institution of a 14-month lock-in for equity partners.

Insolvency specialist Michael Woollard is to join SJ Berwin when a departure date can be agreed with Hammonds.

Woollard told The Lawyer he had been in discussions with SJ Berwin for some time. He said his decision to move is unconnected with Hammonds’ announcements about the lock-in and a projected fall in profitability for the 2004-2005 financial year.

Woollard’s practice focuses on insolvency and corporate recovery work, and he has been involved in a number of high-profile insolvency cases including acting for the receivers of Claims Direct and the liquidators of Leyland DAF.

“SJ Berwin has got a good practice,” said Woollard. “I think it’s a good opportunity for me to join them.”

Hammonds did not ask its fixed-share equity partners to sign up to the lock-in, designed to stem a recent flow of departures from the firm.

Meanwhile, SJ Berwin has promoted 11 associates to partner. In addition to nine promotions in London, the firm is making up corporate lawyers Christoph Brenner in Munich and Arnaud David in Paris.

The other promotions come in the media, planning, financial services and property litigation departments, as well as two new partners in both the corporate and banking practices.

Together with the arrivals of Woollard and recent Clifford Chance lateral hire Laura O’Neill, SJ Berwin now has 141 partners worldwide.