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May 26, 2011 12:11 PM

DLA Files Arbitration Against Former London Litigation Co-Head

Posted by Chris Johnson

DLA Piper has started arbitration proceedings against its former London litigation co-head Neil Gerrard over his recent departure to Dechert, according to U.K. publication Legal Week.

The dispute between the firm and one of its former top London-based partners centers on the date of Gerrard's departure and whether he should have served a period of gardening leave--a common practice among U.K. firms, where departing lawyers are forced to see out their notice period on paid leave.

Gerrard formally joined Dechert on April 23, having initially discussed a departure date of April 22 with DLA, which was also mentioned to clients. Legal Week reports that DLA then asked for a longer notice period, including a period of gardening leave. The firm earlier this year introduced a mandatory three-month period of gardening leave for departing partners, but the change did not come into effect unti May 1--after Gerrard had left for Dechert.

Legal Week writes that in addition to serving notice of arbitration to Gerrard, DLA has declined to transfer client records for matters Gerrard has been working on to Dechert. If DLA proceeds with its arbitration, Gerrard could be prevented from serving his clients while the matter is being resolved.

Legal Week reports that Mark Howard QC of Brick Court Chambers is advising Gerrard in relation to the dispute, while DLA is being advised by Stephenson Harwood.

News of Gerrard’s departure from DLA emerged in early April, with the firm’s regional corporate crime head Jonathan Pickworth also resigning to join Dechert in London. Pickworth joined Dechert on 16 April and is not involved in any dispute with his former firm.

DLA, Gerrard, and Dechert all declined to comment.

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