Top asset finance partner Mark Western joined White & Case with Maurice Allen at the beginning of May, and was followed by senior associate Justin Benson, who joined the firm as a partner.
Now the rest of the capability – senior associate Adrian Beasley and juniors Raviv Surpin and Mark Moody – are jumping ship.
The team's biggest client was GE Capital Aviation Services, which has an institutional relationship with Weil Gotshal. Now that the entire capability has left, the firm is quickly trying to replace it so that it can keep hold of the client's asset finance work.
The team is understood to have billed between £3m and £4m in its best year at Weil Gotshal, although some of the firm's sources claim that this figure is too high.
White & Case is now thought to be the only US firm in London doing asset finance work.
Weil Gotshal head of banking James Chesterman says: “We are interviewing asset finance people at the moment. We are sorry to see the team go but to put it in perspective it was probably one of the core five or six areas within the banking group.”
With regard to GE Capital, he says: “It is not an exclusive relationship, but we don't know what its institutional relationship is with White & Case, which will be relevant.”
Western says that White & Case is now looking to add another two or three lawyers to the team, and will work with the firm's strong asset finance group in New York, Tokyo and Paris.
He says: “Not many people can deliver that – this fits in with the international thing we are trying to do.”