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THE reputation of Lagerlof & Leman - the Swedish member of Linklaters & Alliance - has taken a knock with the revelation that the five ex-partners who set up a breakaway firm rather than join the alliance are billing almost twice as much as their ex-colleagues.
According to the respected Swedish magazine, AffArs VArlden, the ex-Lagerlof partners who established Hammarskiold & Co last December have billed Skr10m (£800,000) on average over the past six months, the highest figure for any firm in the country.
Lagerlof's 28 partners averaged Skr6.3m (£500,000) for the 1997 financial year, although that figure is thought to include the fees of the five former partners.
Those who left in protest at Lagerlof's negotiations with Linklaters and set up Hammarskiold include the heads of Lagerlof's banking and finance and intellectual property departments, as well as most of the M&A team.
Hammarskiold's managing partner Peder Hammarskiold said it had been instructed on a number of "dream" assignments, including the merger of Swedish insurance companies Lansforsakringar and Wasa. He said the partners had taken all their corporate clients from Lagerlof and were already attracting new ones.
Hammarskiold added that client soundings by rival Swedish firms found that Lagerlof would not be able to attract big-ticket work through the one-stop shop alliance. Lagerlof is also bound to lose referral work from Linklaters' big London rivals.
"The Alliance appeals to the unsophisticated buyer of legal services," he said. "Sophisticated buyers like Volvo and Industri VArden know who to pick."