KWM delays Europe managing partner appointment amid restructure

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) will go without a managing partner in Europe and the Middle East until the end of the year.

The firm has deferred holding elections to replace William Boss, who resigned from the position in January – one year before his term ends – until much later this year while it formalises a new “divisional restructure” of its practice groups.

The restructure sees the firm dramatically cutting its practice groups in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.

Global managing partner Stuart Fuller said: “The choice we had was do we go ahead with the managing partner election straight away, or wait until the new divisional structure is in place.

“The divisional heads will be managing a considerable amount of the practice of the firm, so we decided to hold off appointing a new managing partner for some time and will revisit it once we’ve bedded down a new structure.”

The restructure of KWM’s practice groups in the UK, Europe and Middle East sees its 17 practice areas reorganised into three “core” groups: corporate, funds and finance; dispute resolution and regulation; and real estate.

It follows the firm posting flat global revenue of $1.02bn (£714m) for 2015, down one per cent on the previous year.

The firm has seen a raft of high level exits this year, including chief operating officer Rachel Reid leaving to join Taylor Wessing.

The combined firm has undergone a long process of integration since the merger with SJ Berwin in the UK in October 2013. The Swiss Verein network has more than 2,700 lawyers in 30 locations.

The firm’s recent decision to trim almost 10 per cent of its equity partnership in London, less than two years into its combination, combined with a raft of ‘big hitter’ exits from its traditionally strong disputes and private equity practices has led many to question the success of the firm’s Sino-Anglo integration so far.

KWM management embarked on a “partnership review” last year, with around 15 partners understood to be leaving the firm. On top of that, the firm has lost a string of partners from its London office so far this year, including Gregg Beechey for Fried FrankSimon Fulbrook to Goodwin Procter, Richard Lever to Goodwin Procter, and Alex Leitch to Covington & Burling.

It also picked up 15 lateral hires, including Laura Brunnen from Fried Frank,three projects partners from Linklaters, and nine real estate and commerce partners and associates from Eversheds.