Lehman’s City lawyers abandon sinking ship

Nomura set to inherit half of bank’s team as 60 lawyers quit

Lehman’s City lawyers abandon sinking shipMore than half of the London lawyers at Lehman Brothers have left since the bank’s collapse in September, despite the huge amount of legal work still required by administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

From a team of 80-100 lawyers, around 60 have departed. PwC has offered the remaining legal staff lucrative contracts until the end of the year to entice them to stay to help wind up the bank’s many ­operations.

A ;senior ;source ;at Lehman told The Lawyer: “A reasonable proportion of the group has been retained until the end of 2008, but it’s likely that some legal compliance staff will be retained for the ­administrators in 2009.”

Some senior lawyers will also be offered contracts until the end of 2009, although capital markets chief Piers Le Marchant and 40 other lawyers have already departed for Nomura after the Japanese bank took over Lehman’s European investment banking business in September.

Another 20 have left to pursue other opportunities, leaving some 40 lawyers to work with PwC, but more departures are likely.

Around 10 more lawyers are expected to accept offers from Nomura, the source said.

Those who remain at Lehman have been offered generous packages by PwC, according to recruiters.

One Lehman lawyer admitted that the contracts “represent some premium for the fact that this is a business in administration and not a permanent role”.

When the bank went under in September, it was not immediately clear what would ;happen ;to ;the in-house legal team, with uncertainty as to whether its members would by paid.

However, many lawyers have seized the opportunity to work with PwC on one of the defining insolvencies of the decade.

Headhunter Shami Iqbal, director of legal and ­compliance at Sheffield Haworth, said: “Some of the lawyers staying with PwC are doing completely unprecedented work.

“The people who come out the other side will be very marketable, both to
in-house institutions and law firms.”