Four partners from Ropes & Gray’s London office are set to leave the firm in a move that will significantly cut back its real estate and restructuring-related teams in the U.K. capital, sources confirmed.
Multiple sources have told The American Lawyer affiliate Legal Week that the quartet are set to leave following discussions with firmwide management, who traveled to London last week from the United States.
All four partners, who Legal Week has decided not to name, work across the firm’s restructuring-related and real estate groups. Sources said the partners met with management on Friday and are expected to leave over the coming months. Ropes & Gray declined to comment on the news.
The sources said the exits are part of a strategic shift for Ropes & Gray as it looks to instill a more global focus in London, where the firm has around 30 partners.
In addition to the managed exits, the head of the firm’s international real estate investments and transactions group, Iain Morpeth, will be retiring at the end of the year, in line with the firm’s retirement policy.
One former partner said of the exits: “It seems like a bit of a bloodbath over there at the moment. It has for a long time. The last two years have been shaky.”
News of the departures comes after Ropes & Gray appointed private equity partner Will Rosen as the new co-head of its London base in January this year, to work alongside longstanding co-head and office founder Mike Goetz.
The Boston-based firm has seen multiple exits in London over the last two years, with departures including former London co-founder Maurice Allen, investment funds partners Monica Gogna and Anand Damodaran, who joined Dechert and Kirkland & Ellis respectively, and finance partners Mark Wesseldine and Fergus Wheeler to King & Spalding.
Ropes & Gray has previously faced criticism from ex-partners about its black box remuneration system, which makes it relatively easy for management to encourage people towards the door by docking pay in their annual review without actively asking them to leave.
In April, Ropes & Gray announced that New York real estate partner David Djaha has been selected to replace David Chapin as firmwide managing partner when he retires at the end of 2019, while corporate partner Julie Jones has been appointed as the firm’s first-ever female chair, who is succeeding long-serving leader Bradford Malt.
Allen and Goetz founded the London base in 2010 after previous stints at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case. Allen retired from the firm at the end of 2016 and joined DLA Piper as a consultant the following year.
Ropes & Gray posted firmwide revenue of nearly $1.6 billion for 2017—a 7.5 percent increase over the prior year. While it does not provide revenue breakdowns by office, the firm had said the London base enjoyed its best performance last year.
The latest cuts also come after the firm shed a 100-strong patent prosecution team last year, with the practice spun off into an independent firm, Haley Guiliano.