Linklaters axes breakaway associates

Linklaters has fired three associates from its Portugal office after discovering their plans to leave the firm and set up the Lisbon office of a major competitor.

The document, called Project Iberia, was found saved on the desktop of one of Linklaters’ laptops, and detailed how the associates would leave the firm to launch a new office with a “major international firm”.

Jorge Bleck, Linklaters’ corporate head in Portugal, said: “[The document] makes a specific reference to a major international law firm with the name blanked out.”

The associates are banking lawyer Antonio Payan Martins, tax lawyer Patrick De Werbe and Francisco Almeida in capital markets.

Bleck said the associates were given 24 hours to reaffirm their commitment to Linklaters but failed to do so and were asked to leave.

Bleck added: “We had just came back from a retreat and these associates were with us making fantastic statements about the firm and at the time they were doing this business plan for another firm.

“People in the office thought ‘come on guys, this isn’t fair’.”

The associates could not be reached for comment.