King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has seen two IP partners exit the firm in Melbourne, taking their 13-strong team to rival Minter Ellison.
IP partner Robert Cooper has left the firm, alongside partner Wayne McMaster who previously headed King & Wood Mallesons’ Australian IP and health and pharmaceuticals practice groups.
The pair left KWM with a special counsel, three senior associates, four associates and a number of paralegals and support staff. McMaster and Cooper’s departure leaves two IP partners remaining in KWM’s Melbourne office, and nine scattered across its Australian offices.
It is understood that they will transfer their combined portfolio of work to their Minter Ellison.
KWM’s Australian managing partner Sue Kench said that the decision for the team to exit the firm was a mutual one.
She added: “When firms combine you need to rebalance and realign your practices, and this move is part of that alignment strategy.”
Kench continued: “When you bring firms together who work with a range of different clients and sectors, there are questions of conflict and management issues. It’s the normal cut and thrust of a merger.”
“The firm has a really strong IP practice, and we’ll look to refresh the team with both lateral partner hires and internal promotions.”
KWM is also preparing for the exit of financial services partner Michelle Levy and three other lawyers, who are expected to leave the firm’s Sydney office in the spring to join Allens.
Last month, the firm’s global head of dispute resolution Beau Deleuil left the firm – just one month after his appointment to the role (4 December 2013).