A year ago this week

Wragges moves into London

Wragge & Co merged with City intellectual property (IP) practice Needham & Grant, developing its media practice and establishing a London presence.

Needhams employed five partners and was one of the remaining IP specialists in England. Its client base included Unilever and British Gas.

Needhams' senior partner Gregor Grant became head of IP. And Gordon Harris, former head of Wragges' IP department, was assigned a new team-leader position.

The IP team has employed one more partner and assistant since the merger. It now consists of eight partners and 29 assistants.

Clients of the department include Cadbury Schweppes and Heinz.

Regional firms ditched by Cornhill Insurance

Cornhill Insurance slashed its panel from more than 70 firms to 15. Cornhill felt that it had too many legal advisers. Each branch had its own local relationship so it missed out on bulk purchase savings.

Berrymans Lace Mawer and Eversheds were retained on the new panel list, which continued to be divided according to region. Niche firms such as Newcastle-based Jacksons and Manchester's James Chapman & Co were understood to have been dropped from the panel. Beachcroft Wansbroughs was selected to advise nationally on insurance litigation.

Cornhill divisional claims manager Keith Hebburn says that the relationship with Beachcrofts has worked well and it has developed because alternate lawyers were kept in each part of the UK.

Denton Wilde's French target split over tie-up

Denton Wilde Sapte's merger with French firm Salès Vincent & Associés looked doubtful when Salés Vincent commenced arbitration talks to resolve internal disputes about the merger.

Arbitration talks at the Conférence des Bâtonniers, France's governing body for its bar associations, aimed to find amicable ways to break up Salés Vincent.

In 1991, Denton Hall formed eight-firm continental alliance Denton International. Salés Vincent joined Denton International in 1995, but could not agree on a foreign firm merger.

Dentons' Paris office opened on 1 July 2000, resulting from a merger between the remaining Salés Vincent partners.

The office has 11 partners and 31 lawyers and focuses on mergers and acquisitions, aircraft finance, IP and litigation.