Lawyers leave Walkers for Maples

Maples has announced the recruitment of seven partners and three senior associates from Global Investment Funds Group of offshore law firm Walkers, in what Maples called “one of the largest recruitment initiatives in this sector in recent times”.

Nine of the 10 Walkers’ fund professionals are based in the Cayman Islands and one partner is based in the British Virgin Islands.

Partners Julian Ashworth, Heidi De Vries, Sheryl Dean, David Marshall, Philip Millward and Gwyneth Rees, and senior associates Philip Dickinson, Patrick Head and Lucy Nicklas will be joining the Cayman Islands office of Maples and Partner Tim Clipstone will be joining the BVI office of Maples as soon as they are free to do so under their existing arrangements, Maples said in a news release.

Walkers confirmed the announcement saying the named lawyers are current employees of Walkers and clients would be informed if and when they leave the firm. Walkers’ investment funds team globally consists of 55 investment fund lawyers. The departure comes shortly after Walkers announced the firm will sell its Walkers Management Services division to Intertrust.

In a thinly veiled reference to the sale, Jon Fowler, global head of Investment Funds at Maples, noted the business model of Maples “avoids the dislocation of outsourcing entity formation and maintenance to a third party provider”, adding that “this no doubt was a factor in [the Walkers’ funds lawyers’] respective decisions to join us”.

While the proceeds of the sale of Walkers Management Services will go to the equity partners at Walkers, the loss of the division will impact Walkers’ revenue going forward. Walkers confirmed in a statement that “a small number of our salaried partners disagreed with the strategic direction that the firm has taken and have made the decision to leave”, and maintained the firm’s “equity partnership remains 100 per cent intact and every equity partner is fully committed to our global strategy”.

Diarmad Murray, Walkers’ global managing partner, said the firm had anticipated that Maples would approach a number of its investment funds lawyers in the Cayman Islands and the BVI. “This move by Maples did not take us by surprise and was something we have been fully prepared for,” he said.

“Walkers remains in excellent shape and we are confident that clients’ legal requirements will continue to be serviced to the highest standards. We continue to speak with our clients about the exciting developments and continued growth at Walkers following the sale of our management services group and our future as a market-leading, truly independent law firm,” Mr. Murray said.

Walkers said it had more investment funds partners ranked in the current International Who’s Who of Investment Funds Lawyers than any other law firm worldwide. Regardless of any departures, it therefore would be “business as usual” for Walkers’ Investment Funds Group.

“We have a wealth of specialists who will ensure that we continue to deliver the same high standard of legal service to our funds clients,” said Rod Palmer, global head of Investment Funds with Walkers. “We will also shortly be announcing the relocation of several senior investment funds partners back to the Cayman office, so that clients can be assured we have the capability to deliver, or even surpass, the same high quality legal services that they have become accustomed to.”

Walkers’ Global Chairman Grant Stein recently announced his retirement effective 30 
June, 2012.

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