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PANNONE & Partners newest equity partner Neil Gerrard has left the Manchester practice to join rival firm Dibb Lupton Broomhead in the city.
Gerrard, who started with Pannones in 1989, took partnership in 1993 and was made up to equity status a year ago. His switch to Dibbs has been negotiated over the past three months.
His departure again focuses attention on Pannones which recently demerged its London and Manchester practices. Last year the firm ended its joint venture with Sheffield's Irwin Mitchell - which created disaster specialists Pannone Napier - and it has suffered a number of partner and assistant losses in the past 18 months.
Gerrard, now joint head of Dibbs' commercial investigation and regulatory unit with London-based partner Neil Micklethwaite, cites the de-merger from London, the base for up to 70 per cent of his work, as the catalyst behind his resignation.
When Gerrard joined Pannones' equity ranks, the firm was already discussing plans for the split and, anticipating future plans, his deed omitted the usual clause on restrictive covenants. But his departure is known to be amicable.
Gerrard says: "I'm very excited about this new position."
Dibbs' Manchester senior partner Paul Nicholls says Gerrard's signing fits with the firm's plan to move further into corporate defence work.
"We want to represent or defend those companies that have problems with regulatory bodies. The opportunity of having someone with the experience, depth of knowledge and reputation that Neil has is very exciting. We jumped at the chance."
Pannones' managing partner Joy Kingsley says Gerrard's resignation from the partnership was discussed when plans to split from London were drawn.
*Leading North West matrimonial lawyer Beth Wilkins is joining Pannone & Partners from Davies Arnold Cooper at the start of next month.
Wilkins, who worked with DAC Manchester and its predecessor firm Maurice Rubin Clare for a number of years, will become a full equity partner and joint head of Pannone's family law department with Catherine Jones.
DAC assistant Claire Young is moving with her.
DAC senior partner David McIntosh says the firm has become increasingly aware that family law "does not have a place in the newly-developing DAC," but it is disappointed at the loss of Wilkins.
"We expect Beth's clients will remain with her and, indeed, DAC will be referring all future matrimonial work to Beth," he says.
Joy Kingsley says the firm, which will house a seven-member matrimonial team with Wilkins' addition, will have "one of the strongest family law departments in the country".
"We are delighted to have attracted such a high quality lawyer as Beth Wilkins who is considered one of the top family lawyers in the North West," says Kingsley.