Covington & Burling has confirmed it has hired King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) litigation head Craig Pollack, as well as partner Louise Freeman.
The Lawyer first revealed the US firm was on the brink of hiring SJ Berwin lifer Pollack last month. Covington partners are understood to have voted on the new hires late last week.
Pollack will join former head of KWM’s disputes practice Alex Leitch at the US firm, as well as partner Greg Lascelles, who moved over earlier this year.
He is the last of the big name SJ Berwin litigators to exit the firm following the departures of: Leitch to Covington, Hilton Mervis to Arnold & Porter, Tim Beale to Byrne & Partners and Justin Michaelson to Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.
Pollack was understood to be one of the most vocal supporters of riding out the turbulence at KWM over the last year, and is understood to have held several discussions with more junior lawyers about remaining at the firm.
Louise Freeman will move over with Pollack, having been a partner at KWM since 2008. She was formerly an associate at legacy Herbert Smith.
She advises investment banks, international corporate groups, asset managers and credit rating agencies in the financial services and private equity sectors.
On Wednesday morning (21 December), The Lawyer revealed Macfarlanes had made its biggest team hire ever – taking on a three partner competition team from KWM and its former senior partner Stephen Kon.
Tom Usher, Cameron Firth and Christoph Humpe will all join Macfarlanes’ EU and competition team, while Kon will join as a consultant.
Former EUME head William Boss is moving to Addleshaw Goddard, while global managing partner Stuart Fuller also stepped down from his role.
The exits follow the firm’s failed capital call several months ago when four big-hitter partners, including head of investment funds Michael Halford and former managing partner Rob Day, resigned.
Several weeks later, KWM EUME partners were asked to agree to 12-month lock-ins in order to receive financial support from China. However, the plans failed, with not enough partners agreeing to some parts of the deal.
KWM admitted it would need to find a buyer for its EUME arm later in November as it emerged its £14m China rescue deal had failed.
Dentons’ negotiations to take over a large part of King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) EUME business fell through because partners refused to accept a 25 per cent cut in profit share, The Lawyer understands.
King & Wood Mallesons China is in talks to buy out the firm’s Dubai, Germany, Italy and Spain offices, The Lawyer understands.
The China partnership is expected to pick up a significant chunk of partners, associates and support staff at each of those offices.
It is also talking to corporate and M&A partners in London about a possible purchase, which would see the Sino-Australian firm retain a small number of English lawyers in the capital.
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