RPC’s London office

RPC, a British law firm formerly known as Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, has made a double partner hire from Sedgwick’s London office as the latter prepares to wind down its operations.

Insurance partner Naomi Vary, who has a focus on political risk, terrorism insurance and trade credit, will join RPC alongside professional indemnity partner Karen Morrish.

Vary only joined Sedgwick as a partner 10 months ago, having previously worked as a director at Clyde & Co, the latter a firm that has been bandied about as a potential savior for some Sedgwick refugees. Morrish was with Sedgwick for five years, having come aboard from Bond Pearce, a firm now known as Womble Bond Dickinson following a series of mergers.

The double partner hires from Sedgwick bring the number of partners in RPC’s professional indemnity team to seven.

“Naomi will be building out our political risk team in London and joining up with Geraldine Bourke in Singapore to add a truly international service to our clients,” said a statement by RPC insurance head Simon Laird. “Karen joins a team which is operating at its capacity and needs to grow. She’ll add real strength to the team and provide an impressive depth of experience that our clients in London and Bristol will benefit from.”

News of the hires comes as a number of U.K. insurance firms have been circling the stricken San Francisco-based firm’s London arm, which will house four partners and a number of other lawyers after the exits to RPC.

Legal Week recently reported on Clyde & Co and DAC Beachcroft being in the running to take on parts of Sedgwick’s London office, which operates as a separate limited liability partnership to the Am Law 200 firm and is headed by insurance partner Edward Smerdon, who is also a member of Sedgwick’s executive committee. The American Lawyer reported in October that merger talks between Sedgwick and Clyde & Co had hit the skids.

Sedgwick now plans to shed some 75 jobs after closing by Jan. 20 a back office operations center that it opened in Kansas City, Missouri, in mid-2014. The 85-year-old firm has suffered from an exodus of partners in 2017, including the loss of its offices in Austin, Texas; Bermuda; South Florida; and Washington, D.C.