Linklaters is on the hunt for a partner to join its real estate practice, leading to suggestions that management’s plans to shrink the department have gone too far, The Lawyer understands.
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According to sources close to the firm, Linklaters is also looking for a construction associate. It is not clear whether the firm is looking to hire the real estate partner at an equity or salaried level, but it is thought that the firm would look for a lawyer who could perform a corporate support role rather than go out and win work.
Well placed sources said that the firm is looking for a real estate partner could be percieved as an admission that the department has shrunk more than management anticipated.
“Linklaters’ real estate department has had a desperate time in the past two or three years as a consequence of senior management meddling,” said one source close to the firm. “Now everyone is clear that the department has been reduced to a corporate support role, but they don’t have enough people left to even do that.
“Management is being beaten up by corporate because they can’t get support enough from real estate and there has been approval, in principle, for a lateral hire.”
Linklaters’ real estate department has shrunk considerably since the firm-wide restructuring in December 2011 when up to 10per cent of partners faced the axe (8 December 2011).
Partners within the real estate department have also been de-equitised and commercial real estate partner Patrick Plant, who continues to advise clients and is responsible for the firm’s global premises, now works a four day week.
Some sources have suggested that Plant may come back full time, but it is not clear whether this would satisfy the hole in the practice, or if another hire would still be required.
Notable departures from Linklaters real estate team this year include department head Anne Byrne, who have moved to an in-house role at Capital and Counties Properties (16 August 2012), real estate investment partner Joe Conder, who left for Goodwin Procter (14 May 2012), and Huw Baker and Julian Innes-Taylor, who have both joined Lawrence Graham (17 May 2012).
Partner Andrew Bruce, who specialises in advising on the acquisition, funding, development, letting and disposal of commercial property, has taken over from Byrne as UK head of real estate.
Linklaters declined to comment on the partner search but a spokesman for the firm said in a statement: “Our strategy continues to be that of a market-leading real estate practice and, as a result, Linklaters is totally committed to its London real estate practice as well as the real estate sector as a whole. We continue to have strength-in-depth at both partner and associate levels. Our real estate sector offering, which includes market leaders in all aspects of our work, remains a strong one, both in London and globally.”