Tite & Lewis, the firm tied to Coopers & Lybrand, has launched a recruitment campaign for corporate, finance and commercial property lawyers.
However, it may face difficulty persuading people to join because of uncertainty over Coopers' merger with Price Waterhouse (PW), which has its own law firm, Arnheim & Co.
Tite & Lewis senior pensions assistant Richard Leckey left last month to join Hammond Suddards.
Although he said his main motive was to join an ambitious firm with an “established quality pensions law client base”, he added that the uncertain situation at Tite & Lewis was a factor in his departure: “Tite & Lewis is at present in an embryonic stage of development and its fate is directly linked to proposed changes in rules which relate to MDPs – and to whether Coopers' proposed merger with PW actually takes place.”
Coopers and PW's merger plan was announced without any apparent consultation with its legal arms. Tite & Lewis and Arnheim & Co publicly welcomed the news and said they would merge, but it is far from clear whether their accountancy partnerships will be allowed to go ahead.
The accountancy firms' chances of getting regulatory clearance in Europe, the US and Japan have not been helped by the announcement that rival Big Six firms Ernst & Young and KPMG are also seeking to merge.
Leckey's departure may also be related to the fact that his pensions work concentrates on disputes – accountancy firms are not keen to have lawyers litigating for clients because of the potential conflicts of interest involved.