Goodwin to take on first trainees in London with KWM intake

Goodwin Procter has applied for validation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to take on five King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) trainees, The Lawyer understands.

The intake would mark the first time Goodwin has taken on any trainees in London.

The group is understood to be following former KWM investment funds head Michael Halford to the US firm.

The hire is expected to be the first confirmed trainee move from KWM, which has around 60 trainees who are waiting to see which firms will take them on before KWM goes into administration later this month – the largest number of trainees ever to be affected by a UK law firm collapse.

Linklaters said in December it would make offers to a number of KWM trainees but so far no hires have been confirmed. A raft of top tier firms in the City are also understood to be rallying to rescue KWM trainees amid the collapse of the firm’s UK, Europe and Middle East arm.

KWM is understood to be holding ongoing discussions with the SRA and the Law Society about potential options for trainees, and is exploring the possibility of securing special dispensation for trainees due to qualify in February, which would allow them to qualify without completing their final few weeks at the firm.

Halford resigned from KWM in October at the same time as three other big-name partners, prompting KWM to call off its planned £14m capital call due to “revenue implications” related to the exits.

Goodwin Procter revealed it had hired Halford a few weeks later, subsequently also hiring four partners from his team.

KWM is currently in the middle of a lawsuit against Goodwin Procter over the US firm hiring the bulk of its private equity team in Paris. Former KWM partner Richard Lever is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit and is accused of poaching lawyers from KWM for his new firm.

Goodwin Procter did not respond to requests for comment.