Departures unconnected to planned profit centre merger, says Eversheds

EVERSHEDS corporate star Paul Scrivener is resigning from its Leeds office but the firm has denied that the move, along with the departure of three other partners from the office in recent months, is connected with its proposals to merge its profit centres in the spring.

Some form of national profit centre merger has been planned ever since the firm adopted the national name of Eversheds in 1995, but partners in profitable offices such as Leeds and London are said to have been worried about dilution of profits.

Four partners in Leeds including Scrivener, who last July led the team advising DuPont on its £1.8bn purchase of three chemicals businesses from ICI have resigned in the past five months.

A leading management buyout partner, Ian Richardson, is also understood to have been considering leaving in April, but the firm appears to have persuaded him to stay on with the offer of a new role in management, possibly in London.

Leeds managing partner David Ansbro denied the departures were to do with the forthcoming profit centre merger.

Scrivener is leaving at the end of April to join newly-launched Cayman Islands firm, Solomon Harris.

Ansbro said that as Scrivener was young and unmarried he was taking a once in a lifetime opportunity. 'If it doesn't work out for him, the door is still open for him here,' he added.

Richardson would be changing his role at the firm, said Ansbro, but he would not reveal what his new role was to be.

The other three leavers are litigation partner Mark Harrison, who Ansbro said resigned in September 'to pursue a career in London'; property partner Richard Davies, who resigned at the end of October and joined Leeds firm Cranswick Watson because, Ansbro said, he preferred the atmosphere in a smaller firm; and intellectual property partner Dai Davies, about whom Ansbro would not comment.

Eversheds' management committee hopes to begin the long-planned merger of its profit centres with effect from 1 May, but partners have to vote on it first.

Although deputy chairman Nimble Thompson would not comment on details, The Lawyer has learnt that the plan is for the move to be taken incrementally with only 5 per cent of profits being shared nationally in the first year.

The proportion of profits going into the national pool will increase by a further 5 per cent each subsequent year. This means that it will be 20 years before 100 per cent of partner drawings are from a national pool.

It is thought the amount partners draw from the national pool will be determined not on a lockstep system based on length of service but purely on performance, a system used by the big six accountancy firms.