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Arnheim Tite & Lewis, the associate law firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, is in turmoil, say sources, after the departure of six partners to set up KLegal, the UK legal arm of rival accountants KPMG.
KPMG's decision to poach the lawyers from its accountancy rival has surprised the legal world. Pundits were expecting KPMG to merge with a UK firm rather than launch a firm from scratch.
Sources say the departures will cause difficulties for Arnheim Tite & Lewis' managing partner Christopher Tite and partner Chris Arnheim.
Tite was managing partner of the law firm of Price Waterhouse, Arnheim & Co, which merged with Tite & Lewis, Coopers & Lybrand's UK legal arm, when the two accountants joined forces last year.
But Arnheim says: "To say I am fed up that six people are leaving who I recruited is true but to say there is a power struggle is untrue. There are six people going and there are people who want to put out some mischief-making stuff and we take that seriously."
Tite says: "In terms of the business impact... it is not going to have a material impact on our business. These are six guys and they have got the chance to start up [a firm]."
But a source tells The Lawyer Arnheim is unhappy following the departure of the partners, all of whom were originally with Arnheims. The source claims: "Arnheim is saying: 'Look what you've done to this firm I built. It is falling apart. Who's to know who's leaving next?'"
The six partners, who quit last Wednesday, are James Hodgson (IP), Tim Johnson (employment), Patrick Martin and Philip Rogers (corporate), and Timothy Parsons and Alastair Holmes (banking and finance), leaving Arnheim Tite & Lewis with 15 partners.