Salans hit as nine jump ship for Locke Lord’s City launch

UK firm falls prey to US outfit as banking and real estate chiefs lead seven-partner defection

Stephen Finch
Stephen Finch

Salans is set to lose seven partners and two consultants to Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s (BLG) former merger suitor in one of the most audacious raids yet by a US firm on a London practice.

Global banking chief and former global board chair Stephen Finch has resigned from Salans alongside ­London real estate head Daniel Polden.

They are set to join Locke Lord as part of the Texas-based firm’s London launch, which is being spearheaded by former Salans global managing partner Roger Abrahams.
Consumer finance ­partners Paula Howard and Bill McCaffrey, consumer finance litigation partner Kevin Heath, corporate ­partner Graham Spitz and restructuring partner David Grant are also poised to move.

Banking consultant and global cards and payment head Robert Courtneidge is also joining the upstart together with restructuring consultant James Varley. Courtneidge joins as a consultant, Varley as a partner.

Locke Lord is also hiring Rochman Landau partner Joseph Kosky.

Abrahams left Salans’ partnership in May and has since carried out consultancy work for the firm as of ­counsel. He was global ­managing partner between 2002 and 2005 and was replaced by current ­managing partner Dariusz Oleszczuk.

Finch, meanwhile, is still a member of the firm’s global board, of which he was chairman between 2005 and 2009.

The Lawyer reported the potential raid on Salans in the summer (8 August). The US firm said at the time that it had “strong ties to the London legal market” and that its “strategic growth plan includes expansion in the UK as one of our ­priorities to continue to serve our clients’ needs”.

Locke Lord (previously Locke Lord Bissell & ­Liddell until its September rebrand) was formed in 2007 out of the merger of Texas-based Locke Liddell & Sapp and Lord Bissell & Brook.

It has had a City office for a number of years as a base for lawyers who come to London on business, but has not had any permanent legal staff in the capital.

“[At the time of the 2007 merger] we immediately had London as one of our strategic goals. It’s been ongoing for three or four years,” said Locke Lord chair Jerry Clements.

We intend on expanding our core group to explore practices that are synergised with the US; energy and insurance are core to the firm, so we expect to expand in London in those areas.”

Locke Lord held merger talks in 2007 with BLG, which has since combined with Clyde & Co.

A Salans spokesperson said in a statement: “We recognise that it’s a part of life that at different times people will want to come and go or change what they’re doing. It’s an ­integral part of the business cycle and offers opportunities for fresh resources and ideas.”