Eversheds Sutherland absorbs group of KWM lawyers in London

New arrivals, including five partners, join as part of Eversheds’ and KWM’s cooperation agreement struck in July

The bulk of KWM’s London office is moving over to Eversheds Shutterstock

Eversheds Sutherland’s international arm has taken on a group of former King & Wood Mallesons’ (China) London partners and staff as part of the cooperation agreement the two firms announced back in July.

The group moving across to Eversheds’ London office includes five partners, 10 lawyers and an additional eight business services staff, representing the bulk of KWM’s London office. The cooperation deal struck in July requires KWM’s Chinese business to refer all outbound UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and South America legal work to Eversheds’ international business, with Eversheds sending China-based work to KWM (China).

The deal also meant KWM would close its six offices in the UK, Europe and Middle East, with select KWM staff being invited to join Eversheds, subject to practice needs. The five London partners moving across include three from the corporate team – Greg Stonefield, Joseph Newitt and Barri Mendelsohn – and two commercial dispute resolution lawyers – James McKenzie and Wilson Antoon.

Lee Ranson, Eversheds’ chief executive, said: “We are pleased to welcome our new partners and colleagues to Eversheds Sutherland, building further strength in our corporate and litigation teams. Our newly launched exclusive cooperation agreement with KWM (China) is already delivering many benefits for the clients of both our firms, and the new team in London will help us drive further success.”

KWM had previously been associated in Europe with UK firm SJ Berwin, which collapsed into administration in 2017, prompting KWM (China) to set up a European network.

Eversheds’ Hong Kong office was unaffected by the cooperation agreement, as were its Beijing and Shanghai offices, as they do not offer Chinese legal advice.

A number of other international firms have been rethinking their China strategies in recent months. In September, Linklaters said it was cutting headcount in China due to a “prolonged downturn” in the country. In August, Latham & Watkins said it was closing its Shanghai office in favour of a “consolidated hub” in Beijing. That came less than two weeks after Dentons said it was pulling out of mainland China and ending its combination with Dacheng Law Office, citing Chinese cybersecurity and data protection laws.

Meantime in July, Morgan Lewis & Bockius said it was launching an office in Shenzhen, while in June, HFW said it was opening in South China after becoming the first UK-based international law firm to be given permission to open a representative office in the Greater Bay region. 

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