Two senior partners from Berwin Leighton Paisner, including the head of the firm’s Asia practice, have left the firm as its merger with Bryan Cave went live this week.
Hong Kong-based Bob Charlton will join U.K. firm Addleshaw Goddard as Asia head succeeding incumbent Nigel Francis. Charlton left the firm on amicable terms in March, according to a London-based spokesperson at the newly combined firm, now known as Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
“Having accomplished much for our Asia business and having successfully implemented our ‘One Asia’ strategy, our head of Asia, Bob Charlton, has decided that now is a good point for him to seek a new challenge elsewhere, and has left the firm,” the spokesperson said.
In 2014, as part of its Asia expansion plan, legacy Berwin Leighton recruited Charlton, a former DLA Piper Asia Pacific managing partner and a 30-year Magic Circle veteran with both Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance. In late 2013, Charlton stepped down as DLA Piper’s Asia Pacific leader soon after the firm restructured Asian leadership into a U.S.-based committee.
Charlton’s successor as Asia head has not been decided, as both firms will continue to operate under legacy brands in Asia pending regulatory approvals, according to the spokesperson.
St. Louis-based Bryan Cave and Berwin Leighton Paisner officially combined on April 3. The merged firm has more than 1,600 lawyers and roughly $900 million in annual gross revenue, according to The American Lawyer.
The merger will help Bryan Cave, which reported $608 million in 2016 revenue, gain offices in Singapore and Beijing. The U.S. firm has offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai with a dozen lawyers.
Berwin Leighton opened its first Asian office in Singapore in 2007 and launched in Hong Kong four years later focusing on real estate work. The legacy British firm had 46 lawyers across offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, and Yangon in 2016, according to the most recent Asia 50 survey. Earlier this year, the firm announced plans to close its Yangon office after only two-and-a-half years. It also operates in alliance with the Jakarta-based firm Ivan Almaida Baely & Firmansyah.
In Hong Kong, where Berwin Leighton has more lawyers, Bryan Cave is licensed to practice local law, whereas the U.K. firm operates in association with local disputes boutique Haley Ho & Partners. The U.S. firm first opened in Hong Kong in 1994; Hong Kong partners Kristi Swartz and Nigel Binnersley joined the firm in 2013 from Blank Rome when the latter closed its office there.
Separately, former Berwin Leighton private client head and board member Jonathan Kropman has joined Trowers & Hamlins after leaving the firm in late February.
Kropman, who ledBerwin Leighton’s private client practice for 13 years, joined Trowers & Hamlins last week. He will now lead the U.K. firm’s private wealth team, which comprises 21 lawyers, including six partners.
Trowers & Hamlins senior partner Jennie Gubbins said the addition of Kropman would “significantly enhance” the firm’s private wealth offering. “This is very much a part of our business strategy. We are confident that Jonathan’s experience and sector track record will strengthen our U.K. and international private wealth expertise.”
Kropman joined Berwin Leighton’s management board in 2001 after the merger between Berwin Leighton and Paisner & Co went live. He advises on all aspects of private wealth, including privacy, family holdings structures, family governance, the impact of regulation, information exchange and tax transparency.
Other Berwin Leighton departures this year include former corporate crime and investigations head Aaron Stephens, who left in February to join King & Spalding’s London office. He had spent 10 years at the firm after joining from DLA Piper in 2008.