Herbert Smith has asked the bulk of its shipping department to resign in a major strategic overhaul.
London-based partners Nicholas Robinson, Charles Baker and Mike Allen will be leaving the firm in the next few weeks, although it is understood that none have finalised their future plans.
The remaining two partners - Charles Kaplan in Paris and George Lamplough in Hong Kong - and those assistants that decide to stay with the firm, will have their shipping practices rebranded within Herbert Smith's wider litigation practice.
Harry Anderson, head of litigation at Herbert Smith, said: "We bolted on a shipping practice about nine years ago. It has not been a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, but it is no secret that we can't get the margins [in shipping] that we can get in other sections of our practice."
Charles Kaplan said that he would still market his Paris-based shipping expertise to clients and that the office will continue to be one of a small number of players in the city's shipping market.
Herbert Smith is now believed to be focusing on maintaining its market position in litigation, consolidating its corporate practice and growing its international arbitration services.
In November of this year, the firm opened an office in Bangkok and recruited Henry Uscinskip, head of Coudert Brothers' international arbitration practice.