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DIBB Lupton Broomhead is showing signs of growing weary of its media-inspired reputation as the "Rottweiler" of the legal profession.
Managing partner Paul Rhodes says: "The Rottweiler image is totally undeserved. Our assertiveness on behalf of our clients could be, and apparently is, misinterpreted as aggression."
Rhodes, head of a firm described recently in the press as one of the "most hated" in Britain, says: "Part of the problem is that whereas most lawyers might take 25 words to say something, if we can say it in half a dozen then we will do so. That apparently makes us different."
The firm's response follows a story in last week's The Lawyer about a fax sent by one of its partners to Jeffrey Green Russell's head of litigation Philip Cohen, during correspondence on a client matter. The Dibbs partner faxed back a copy of a letter from Cohen, with the message "the kind of crap to be expected from you" handwritten across it.
Rhodes says: "It was an unfortunate occurrence made in the heat of the moment, and is regretted by the person who sent the fax and the firm. I'm sure he will not do it again."
And stories in recent issues of the Independent on Sunday about the firm advising companies to consider sacking employees as a last resort have appeared to justify the Rottweiler tag.
But Rhodes says: "The press release put to the paper was somewhat twisted and exaggerated, with a rather unnecessary headline. The bottom line is that our employment department was reacting to a recent case, and unfortunately the logic of the decision is, after trying everything else, to do exactly what we advised."