Legal Eagle Turned Master Poacher
Hosking, Patrick, The Independent (London, England)
TO HEAR Maurice Allen speak of the big blue-chip City law firms, you would not think that until 15 months ago he was a partner in the biggest of them all, Clifford Chance. Nowadays, he is little short of contemptuous of such firms.
"In a sense, they make money in spite of themselves," he says. "They've become safe, bureaucratic organisations that are very poorly managed. It's very difficult to get decisions made. The partners have a job for life, and some of them are not terribly good. To be honest, being a partner in a big City law firm is boring."
Moreover, he adds, there is deep frustration building up among the thirtysomethings in some of the biggest firms who are coming to the shocking realisation they are not going to become partners: "In many cases the firms have misled these people."
All this is grist to Allen's mill. He is in the business of poaching such people and is finding the terrain fertile. Allen is setting up the London office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, one of the biggest law firms in the US.
It is perhaps the most serious attempt by a US firm to muscle in on a highly lucrative City market - in this case legal advice to banks.The territory has until now been dominated by Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Linklaters & Paines.
In the anonymous world of Square Mile lawyering, 39-year-old Allen is a star. At Clifford Chance he was made a partner at the age of 29 - a record that still stands. Before his 30s he had clinched two important clients for the firm: Chase Manhattan and Bankers Trust - each worth more than pounds 3m in annual billings. He then went on to advise Citicorp, which was restructuring News Corp's $9bn of debt - a saga that saw Rupert Murdoch come within a whisker of going bust. But disenchanted with Clifford Chance, he quit in October 1994 to go travelling.
A year later, Weil Gotshal recruited him and his former Clifford Chance colleague Martin Hughes to spearhead its drive into London. They were soon joined by lawyers from Freshfields and Allen & Overy.
Last week, Allen was beaming over his latest coup - recruiting Nia Morris, a capital markets expert, from Linklaters & Paines. "At partner level, it's virtually …
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Publication information: Article title: Legal Eagle Turned Master Poacher. Contributors: Hosking, Patrick - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: February 4, 1996. Page number: 4. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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