A New York legal recruiter who claims Davis Polk & Wardwell owes him a commission for placing litigator Martin Rogers in the Hong Kong office is suing the firm for $1.4 million.

In a  complaint filed last week in state court in New York, Alan Metz alleges that he first contacted Rogers, then head of Asia litigation for  Clifford Chance, last summer. According to Metz, Rogers indicated that he was interested in moving and the two came up with a “wish list” of firms to approach, including Davis Polk;  Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Debevoise & Plimpton;  Sullivan & Cromwell; and  Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Metz said he subsequently contacted Davis Polk Hong Kong office head William Barron and offered to introduce to him “the head of the largest and highest quality litigation practice in Hong Kong.” Though Metz did not identify his candidate by name, he claims Barron could have easily guessed that it was Rogers. Barron allegedly said his firm was not interested in any litigation partners in Hong Kong.
Davis Polk announced that it was bringing Rogers and fellow Clifford Chance partner James Wadham on six months later.
“This was a stunning development to Metz who did not know that there had been any direct contact between Davis Polk and Rogers,” Metz states in his complaint. He added: “But for Metz providing Davis Polk with financial information about Rogers and his willingness to leave Clifford Chance for Davis Polk, defendant would not have been able to consummate the employment of Rogers and his team.”
Davis Polk declined to comment on the matter.
Though recruiters and law firms generally try to avoid disputes with each other, lawsuits over placements are not unknown. In 2008, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice threw out a lawsuit brought against  Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld by New York legal recruiter Eric Sivin of Sivin-Tobin Associates, who claimed he first introduced Korea specialist Chang-Joo Kim, who joined Akin Gump’s New York office as a lateral partner in 2006 (Kim has since moved to  http://www.gtlaw.com, where he heads the Seoul office).
The court ruled in that case that Sivin was not the “procuring cause” of Kim’s joining Akin Gump. Instead, the judge ruled that another recruiter, who had approached a different partner at the firm, had ultimately played a more decisive role.
Metz is being represented by Paul Wexler of  Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard.
Email: jseah@alm.com.