Speechly loses IP and corporate recovery heads as merger vote nears

Speechly Bircham’s head of intellectual property (IP) Alexander Carter-Silk has quit for Brown Rudnick, while its corporate recovery chief Christopher Harlowe has resigned for offshore firm Mourant Ozannes. 

The exits come months ahead of a merger vote between Speechly and Charles Russell, which is set for August 2014 (29 April 2014) and follows failed tie-up talks between Speechly and Withers (23 May 2013).

High-profile IP partner Carter-Silk is understood to have been in talks with US firm Brown Rudnick for a number of months, after the firm outlined its plans to grow its London IP group earlier this year (22 April 2014). 

He is one of Speechly’s most senior partners, having joined the firm from legacy Manches, where he was head of technology and IP, in 2006. He spent three years at Manches, joining from legacy City firm DJ Freeman in 2003 (17 March 2003).  

The hire will fill the gap left in Brown Rudnick’s London IP group after its head of the department Georgie Collins quit for Irwin Mitchell (9 September 2013). In a bid to rebuild the practice the firm also added Latham & Watkins associate Steven James to its London office in March.

The US firm has said openly that the majority of its growth has come from London in recent years, with half of the associates who were due to join the firm in the autumn – mostly those based in New York and Boston – finding out that their offers had been pulled last month (22 April 2014).

Meanwhile offshore firm Mourant Ozannes has hired Speechlys’ head of corporate recovery and insolvency, Christopher Harlowe, as a partner in its Cayman Islands litigation and insolvency practice.

Harlowe joined Speechlys in 2004 from legacy Hammonds (10 February 2004).

The hire is part of Mourant Ozannes’ ongoing strategy to build its presence in the Cayman Islands, particularly in litigation and insolvency work.

It is the second appointment the firm has made from a London firm this year. In January Mourant Ozannes announced the hire of Farrer & Co’s former senior partner Jim Edmondson as a consultant and head of its international trusts and private client team (30 January 2014).

Speechly Bircham confirmed Carter-Silk’s exit but did not say when he was moving across.