The move underlines the fragile of the top UK law firms to poaching by their US rivals on their home turf
With the US law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges hiring Murray Cox, a corporate partner in one of the top UK legal firms Slaughter and May, the vulnerability of UK law firms to poaching on their home turf by their US rivals has got exposed yet again.
It is seen as a new and emerging phenomenon since such hiring in the past that too of a partner of a top legal firm was unheard of.
Cox joins the likes of Paul Dolman who quit Travers Smith to join Latham & Watkins in December 2020 while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom hired Fresh fields Bruckhaus Deringer's global M&A client group co-head, in September last year. Such corporate level lateral moves from the UK to the US firms are bound to push UK's legal firms to initiate new measures before such movements become a fad.
At the same time, firms like Slaughter and May could be forced to remodel their payment structure under which senior partners get paid more money compared to a junior who may have brought more revenue to the firm under the lockstep model.
Cox had joined Slaughter and May as a partner in 2016 and was a member of the firm's corporate, private equity, infrastructure and energy teams. He had led a team advising Kingsway Capital on the $1.4 billion take-private of Jordan-based Al Eqbal Investment Company in November 2020 and was also a part of the team that advised William Hill on its £2.9 billion takeover by Caesars Entertainment in September last year.
At Weil, he will join a market-leading team of corporate lawyers, including London managing partner Mike Francies, Marco Compagnoni, co-head of the firm's international private equity group, and David Avery-Gee, who joined the firm from Linklaters in 2019.
Mike Francies termed Cox as amongst the leading M&A partners in London of his generation while Michael Aiello, chairman of Weil's global corporate department, said: "Murray is a superb lawyer and will play a significant role in supporting our clients globally."