London ‘Fearsome Four’ Law Firm Winner Has Ferocious Response To Firm Departure Report

London 'Fearsome Four' Law Firm Winner Has Ferocious Response To Firm Departure Report 2

US Big Law giant Quinn Emanuel’s UK chief Richard East has fired up – and fired back – at reports in UK legal media about recent departures from the firm, recently named as leader of the ‘Fearsome Four’ pack of the most feared law firms in the world.

The row over departures related principally to the departure from Quinn Emanuel of a team of lawyers who went to Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which included three partners and a reported eight associates.

The move was headed by the co-lead of the UK competition litigation practice Boris Bronfentrinker and prompted the standard reporting from legal media, some of which failed to impress

Quinn Emanuel is known as an aggressive operator that has developed an informality in its dress code but a firm positivity in its approach to the law, which is specializes in litigation and dispute resolution and consistently ranks as one of the highest-earning firms in the world on an equity partner ranking.  The firm reportedly achieved a 27 per cent increase in its earnings at the London office last year achieving  £127.4m with a profit margin of over 70 per cent for the London lawyers.

The firm’s reputation as an aggressive litigator became a prominent feature with claims last year following the firing of an associate in a US office that  it possessed a ‘boys club’ culture, claims that were rejected firmly by Quinn Emanuel.

However the firm does delight in its reputation for fearsomeness, having been named by BTI Consultants as the #1 most feared law firm in the world (ahead of Jones Day, Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins.

The Legal Week post that stirred the ire of Richard East, who co-founded the London branch of the US legal giant and is the firm’s senior partner in London.

The post referenced in LinkedIn below, noted –

My latest: Quinn Emanuel are ‘in real trouble’ in London following a walk-out of up to 15 lawyers, with several people saying profits will be massively hit, and its future in the competition litigation space looking bleak as a clutch of multi-billion pound cases fall away.
London 'Fearsome Four' Law Firm Winner Has Ferocious Response To Firm Departure Report 3
‘They’re In Real Trouble’: Quinn Emanuel London is Set to Lose Not Only Star Partners, But a Huge Chunk of its Business | International

But London chief Richard East was having none of it, posting back on LinkedIn –

We aren’t ‘in real trouble’ and I suspect most sensible readers will dismiss this article as unsubstantiated gossip and conjecture ( which it is). Designed to grab a headline. The true picture will emerge. But it won’t emerge in legal week, that’s for sure. No doubt other law firms leaders will think twice before engaging you in any discussion about their firms. I know I will. A few facts: at my count we are losing 9 lawyers. 97 will remain (23 partners). 4 associates joined us only yesterday. We have 8 more to join us in the next few weeks. We have partnership elections at the end of year.

I would expect we will make up more partners. Our financial performance this year is on a par with last year. We are talking to multiple lateral candidates in multiple areas. We are one of the best ( if not the best ) platforms for litigators in london. Our opponents are always keen to deride us. Call us toxic. None of this is true. Look how many partners we’ve lost in 14 years.

Compare that to any US firm in London. Our ambition is undimmed and we will rebuild competition. Boris is and was a great lawyer. But we existed for 7 years before he arrived as an unknown lawyer from hausfeld and we will exist and grow when he has gone. Regards.


For Quinn Emanuel, ‘Fearsome Four’ winner or not, the upward trajectory is clearly destined to continue unabated – at least if Richard East has his way.

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