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Cardiff firm Hugh James has lost commercial litigation and insolvency head Ian Herbert to local rival Darwin Gray.
While at Hugh James, Herbert was instrumental in winning the firm a place on the biggest public sector panel in Welsh history, which combines the legal spends of bodies including the Welsh Assembly, the Sports Council for Wales, the Arts Council of Wales and the Care Council for Wales.
At Darwin Gray, Herbert will join a team that includes partner Kempton Rees, who joined last year from Geldards, where he headed the insolvency court team.
“In South Wales you don’t see many of the smaller firms doing large commercial work,” said founding partner Donald Gray. “To get that work you need to have people who have experience and ability - that is what we sell ourselves on.”
It is understood that Herbert approached Gray in the hope that he could build a new practice from the ground up, although he will not head the litigation team.
Gray said: “We don’t have practice leaders, we wait for natural leaders to emerge.”
The news is a further sign that the Welsh legal profession is beginning to consolidate.
Last week, Beachcroft acquired Kingslegal’s insurance business, taking the national firm into the Welsh legal market for the first time (The Lawyer, 11 May). As part of the deal Beachcroft acquired the Newport office of Kingslegal, which has 109 staff working on personal injury (PI) claims.
Kingslegal counts insurance giants Axa and Zurich among its clients, both of which use Beachcroft to defend PI claims.