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Berrymans Lace Mawer has been hit by the departure of its Leeds-based construction team to Irwin Mitchell.
David Kilvington is the first partner to leave the Leeds office, taking with him assistants Elizabeth Wilcox and Simon Smith and the team's administrative support.
Kilvington's move brings the number of partners who have left Berrymans in the last two years to 20, six of whom were the equity partners who made up the Liverpool commercial team, who left in October last year.
Paul Taylor, national senior partner of Berrymans, says: "This loss is related to the loss of the commercial team from Liverpool. The two teams worked closely together and the construction team no longer had anyone to work with any more."
The team will undertake contentious and non-contentious work at Irwin Mitchell, acting for developers, contractors and sub-contractors.
A source close to the team says: "There are greater opportunities to develop the construction practice at Irwin Mitchell. The move was a natural progression."
Kevin Docherty, head of commercial property at Irwin Mitchell, says: "We're growing, and are therefore looking for construction expertise. Then the opportunity came along to pick up a good team.
"We had some clients in common with the Berrymans team and some of our clients already knew David. He also brought some clients with him. It's fair to say that David saw an opportunity with Irwin Mitchell because the corporate side of Berrymans is winding down."
Taylor dismisses the idea that the firm's corporate side is dwindling. "We still have a construction team, which we promoted internally," he says.
He adds: "We were sorry to lose David because he's a jolly good lawyer, but it won't effect the performance of the Leeds office. In fact, we're now recruiting and we're bigger than we were in December."
Taylor also says that the firm is "on the verge of setting up partnering agreements with commercial firms", but he declined to go into any details.