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Dibb Lupton Broomhead's head of pension law Sean Hand has left the firm's City office in order to launch his own niche firm, Hand & Co.
Hand's aim is to provide a service to law firms which have no pensions law expertise to allow them to provide pensions advice to commercial clients.
He proposes a networking arrangement, thereby allowing those firms "to protect their client base against competition from major law firms which are able to offer the whole range of legal expertise".
"The good news for clients will be increased choice at highly competitive prices, and for law firms who use the service, increased predator protection," he says.
Hand's move is timely. Only one other niche pensions firm, Sacker & Partners, currently exists to provide other solicitors with such a service. The other leading light in pensions work, Robin Ellison's firm Ellison Westhorp, merged with Hammond Suddards - Dibb's main Yorkshire-based rival - in November 1993 in what top pensions lawyer John Quarrell of Nabarro Nathanson called "a sell-out" (The Lawyer 30 November 1993).
At the time, Dibbs' senior partner Robin Smith said the merger illustrated "the crucial significance of pensions work in all sorts of areas".
The move is Hand's second in two years. He joined Dibbs in February 1993 from Cameron Markby Hewitt, where he was pensions group head, at a time when there were many senior lawyers moving between firms at the tail end of recession (The Lawyer 16 February 1993).
Hand leaves Dibbs on good terms and the firm wishes his venture well, says managing partner Paul Rhodes.
Hand started his career at the Bar and has specialised in pensions work since 1984. He continues to work as one of the 'specialist advisers' to the Social Security Select Committee.