When Wayne Rooney landed at Manchester United in 2004, the story went that it wasn’t because Sir Alex Ferguson needed another striker, but because Newcastle had put in a bid for the young Evertonian and he couldn’t countenance seeing such an exciting talent anywhere else.
That brings us to this week’s news that former SFO director David Green QC has finally signed for Slaughter and May as a senior consultant – a transfer saga long in the making.
It’s a real prestige hire for Slaughters, but sources are already starting to question the rationale behind the firm’s decision. His previous role conflicts him out of at least two major investigations involving Slaughters – British American Tobacco and Ultra Electronics – though the firm will no doubt be in prime position to advise on the next big matter that requires SFO involvement.
Money-wise, Green’s move might not be at the £25.6m Rooney level, but there aren’t many firms out there who could afford his services. Sources claim that American firms were in the market for him, but while Rooney has chosen to see out his career in the USA, Green has stayed with an English team. When it comes to prestige – and purchasing power – Slaughters still has Premier League clout.
Sticking with elder statesmen – and long-running stories– another big name was in the news this week. Former Allen & Overy senior partner David Morley has joined litigation funder Vannin Capital as its new non-executive chairman and will lead its float on the London Stock Exchange. Morley joins a long list of leaders who have shown there is life after the magic circle. For Vannin, it’s a signal that an IPO that has been rumoured for years is finally coming to fruition.
Also (potentially) lining up a float: DWF. That firm’s financial results were out this week, with an 18 per cent increase in turnover strengthening its position should Andrew Leaitherland & Co choose to IPO. The firm has been coy about partner profits, but says they’re up on last year’s £303,500.
Last but not least: everyone’s talking about the departures across two practice areas in Ropes & Gray’s City base, where four partners have been given their marching orders. Real estate has always been a tricky area for US firms in London, but restructuring is an area where some have made real progress. This is an acknowledgement that Ropes has been left behind. The firm launched with a big bang in London eight years ago and grew fast, but this news isn’t the first wobble – it comes after a string of departures last year. Has it all been too much, too soon?
The other question to ask about Ropes relates to what London’s co-managing partner Mike Goetz told The Lawyer: “We’re not asking associates to leave.” Well, perhaps not, but you would have to imagine that a fair few associates will be polishing up their CVs after the departure of their team leaders. The recruiters are already working the phones.