News in brief

A round up of stories from the UK and around the world

Withers' New York merger heralds UK LLP
Withers is to merge with a New York private client firm – and at the same time as the tie-up with Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds, it will become the first top 100 firm to convert to UK limited-liability partnership (LLP) status. The merger with the 15-partner New York firm will create a 70-partner, £40m turnover operation. Withers senior partner Diana Parker will become chairman of the firm, which will be called Withers Bergman in the US and Withers elsewhere, with UK partner Margaret Robertson and US partner Bill Swift becoming joint managing partners. Subject to Law Society approval, Withers will both merge and adopt LLP status at the beginning of next year.
Weil Gotshal hires Latham finance partner
Weil Gotshal & Manges has hired Latham & Watkins finance partner Chris Harrison (left). He is the third lateral hire to join Weil Gotshal in the last three months. Harrison focuses on senior, mezzanine and bridge financing in the area of acquisition finance and has acted for UBS Warburg, Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse First Boston. Kathryn Hobbs
GlaxoSmithKline opts for Slaughters
Slaughter and May has been named as GlaxoSmithKline's principal corporate adviser. When GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham last year, Slaughters acted for GlaxoWellcome and Linklaters advised SmithKline. Slaughters emerged as the main adviser at the end of a 10-month panel review, beating Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Simmons & Simmons.
Simmons slashes retired partners' drawings
Simmons & Simmons has cut the monthly drawings of its retired partners by 20 per cent. Letters sent to the partners stated that the firm had made the decision in the wake of major client Railtrack's administration. The move affects all back payments made since May 2001.
City Disputes Panel names new COO
The City Disputes Panel has appointed a chief operating officer. Karl Davies, formerly at Barclays, will take up the position full time. His appointment comes on the back of his extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution while at Barclays. Guy Sutton will continue as the chief executive of the Disputes Panel. Naomi Rovnick
Wessing takes on Kruger Putz duo
Wessing has hired Guido Kruger, the name partner of Kruger Putz von Dollen, as well as a group of associates. The hires form the bulk of Kruger's Düsseldorf office. Kruger Putz also has offices in Cologne, Hanover and Berlin, with around 10 lawyers in total. Naomi Rovnick
Eversheds to form Italian connection
Eversheds is set to link up with an Italian firm, the Milan-based Piergrossi Villa Manca Graziadei. Piergrossi is a 17-partner firm based in Milan, but also has offices in Rome and Edinburgh. It has a strong telecommunications, intellectual property and intellectual technology law practice. It is not known whether Eversheds is seeking a full merger or a national alliance with the Italian firm.
'Ditch the Bitch' lawyer wins advertising award
Henry Brookman, the divorce lawyer behind an advertising campaign encouraging potential male clients to “Ditch the Bitch” and reminding future divorcees that “All Men are Bastards”, has won an advertising award. The lawyer, Henry Brookman, won the 'Best One-Off Stunt' Award at the Campaign Media Awards for the offbeat campaign, which was first written about in the Tulkinghorn section of The Lawyer. The adverts cost less than £5,000 to produce, but after their Tulkinghorn debut they were picked up by national newspapers and television programmes, including the satirical Have I Got News For You? Naomi Rovnick