Hammonds hit by Gale blow

Leading insolvency lawyer Stephen Gale is negotiating to leave Hammond Suddards after 11 years as a partner, to help Herbert Smith build up a corporate recovery unit.

Gale, currently head of the firm's 34-lawyer corporate recovery team, moved from Masons in Hong Kong in 1986 to help Hammonds' insolvency partner Chris Jones build up the practice to its current size.

He said: “I'm leaving simply because I want a change. I felt that now I'm in mid-career, it was time to do something different.” Gale said he would be working with Herbert Smith's existing insolvency partner Richard Obank, who left Hammonds two and a half years ago, to build a stand-alone corporate recovery unit in the firm.

Obank said Herbert Smith had been looking for some time for a leader to build a new corporate recovery and reorganisation practice.

He said banks were increasingly expecting firms to help rescue companies before receivership appointments were made, and accountancy firms were already moving more in this direction.