Cut-off Heller City arm to resolve problems ahead of Orrick transfer
The partners of Heller Ehrman's London arm are a step closer to finding new homes, with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe on the verge of sealing a deal to take three partners from the now-defunct law firm.Orrick is in talks with Heller's former venture law group, consisting of Richard Eaton, Chris Grew and Struan Penwarden and three associates.In a related move, Orrick has proposed a contribution of £75,000 towards Heller's UK liabilities under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations to cover severance obligations for all employees. Current estimates put Heller's TUPE liability at £240,000, with the UK partners at the dissolved firm asked to create an emergency fund to cover the shortfall.Orrick stressed, however, that its offer of "assistance" did not imply that the firm believed it had any liability under TUPE.Heller's UK partners have also reached an agreement to cover their malpractice insurance, with the current coverage and a six year tail being bought for £300,000.Both issues had been viewed as obstacles for resolving the fate of employees of Heller's London office, which had been hit by the fallout from its parent's dissolution last month.UK partners at Heller have complained that the US parent has failed to offer the practice support in the wake of the dissolution.One partner told Legal Week: "The US have acted in their own self-interest and washed their hands of us. I am sure that in the near future we [UK partnership] will be suing the US partnership."Olswang is advising Heller's UK limited liability partnership on issues surrounding their dissolution, with Graeme Levy leading the team.Attempts to resolve the status of Heller's UK practice came after legalweek.com revealed on Friday (24 October) that Goodwin Procter has secured a deal to launch its long-awaited London office after hiring two partners from Heller.UK-based Heller partners Brian Smith and Robert Asher and two associates are set to join Goodwin, launching the Boston based law firm's first office outside the US.
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