The corporate crime and advocacy departments at leading 45-partner Nottingham practice Freeth Cartwright Hunt Dickins are forming a breakaway firm.
Negotiations are in the final stages to create a new three-partner 10-lawyer firm, practising exclusively in corporate fraud, crime, advocacy and regulatory investigations and prosecutions.
The new firm, to launch in January, will be called Cartwright King and will employ 20 staff. The split is being led by head of corporate crime Michael Thurston and fellow partners Stephen Gelsthorpe and Mark Wilson.
Thurston says: "We think it represents the way the legal profession is going. The one-stop shop service is rapidly disappearing, if it hasn't already."
The move follows similar moves by local rivals Berryman & Co and Browne Jacobson, which have also ditched their criminal departments.
Richard Nelson, senior partner at rival Nottingham firm Nelsons, says: "It leaves us as the only major regional firm providing a full range of services across the board, regardless of the manner of funding."
Berryman & Co split with its criminal department at the end of October to concentrate on commercial and private client services. Managing partner Charles Harrington says: "With three criminal equity partners the economics were getting out of kilter."
Criminal partners fail to generate the same amount of fee income as their commercial colleagues. A source at one local firm says: "It is all a question of profitability and image."
Thurston says the split is totally amicable and the three partners will remain consultants to Freeth Cartwright.