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KWM enters administration
20 January 2017
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KWM has filed for administration.

King Wood & Mallesons LLP ceased trading on Tuesday, with Quantuma administrator Andrew Hosking taking a transfer of its assets and control of the business. The defunct firm has now ceased to be a member of the global KWM verein and has changed its name to the catchy ‘QSP Residual Recoveries LLP’. 

Hosking said, “we are examining the position closely and exploring ways forward with a view to achieving the best possible return for creditors." He confirmed, "regrettably there will be redundancies but at this stage it is still too early to specify how many. A small number of employees will be retained for a period to help with the administration”. Those staff tasked with assigning files to new firms and completing the sales of their brethren to new employers are expected to be moved out of the current office into smaller premises. 

  It wasn't as prestigious as KWM's old address, but at least none of those bloody partners were there

It has been a messy collapse. Last week KWM stopped paying all its staff, some of whom apparently (and understandably) resorted to raiding the canteen freezers. This week, partner relations descended into open warfare with an extraordinary email spat copying in most of the firm. Now the SRA is said to be investigating after client files were left scattered round the office.

In a final email to staff, Managing Partner Tim Bednall said the administrators would advise them on obtaining their statutory redundancy payments, claiming on the insurance and accessing the office and their email accounts. Bednall told them, "I am very sorry that it has finally come to this. I am particularly distressed by the fact that salaries were not able to be paid for the last two weeks".

However, like a zombie (or chicken) that keeps stumbling on despite being decapitated, KWM intends to persevere as a brand in the UK. KWM China is understood to have bought around 40 lawyers in the UK, Europe and Middle East, and in a statement released by a KWM spokeswoman (reduced to using an Australian KWM email account), it said it had "established a new business to maintain a strategic presence in the UK, Europe & the Middle East to service the needs of its global clients". It claimed it now had "core" (translation = really small) practices in London, Frankfurt, Dubai and Riyadh. In a risible bid to save face, KWM Global Chairman Wang Junfeng said “I am proud and excited by the determination of our partners who have worked so hard with us to realise this practice in deeply challenging circumstances. This is a very good outcome for international clients and for the continued development of our firm”. 

Meanwhile, firms have been snapping up the probably-rather-good KWM trainees, with Osborne Clarke scooping up three, DLA Piper taking four, Freshfields finding berths for three and White & Case taking one, too. KWM staffers still looking for a job may have some luck finding one here.
 

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