Husband and wife team quit 'difficult' Simmons

Simmons & Simmons is losing a husband and wife team in its commercial property department to Taylor Joynson Garrett.

Mark Austin and Jane McKee, both partners in Simmons & Simmons' commercial property department, will join Taylors Joynson Garrett's 25-strong team in early September.

Austin, who will take a step down to senior associate level when he joins Taylor Joynson, says: “I have been under pressure.

“As a salaried partner I have been stuck up a one-way street.”

But he insists that McKee, who will remain as a partner on joining Taylor Joynson, is leaving for her own reasons.

“We happened to have ended up with a complementary practice,” he adds.

Commenting on Austin's move from partner to senior associate, Declan Tarpey, managing partner at Taylor Joynson, says: “Everyone who approaches us we look at and assess. We look at everyone individually, we look at our practice and at their experience, qualifications and our own partners.

“We didn't feel it was appropriate at this time to appoint both as partners.”

Austin says he and McKee approached Taylor Joynson, and adds that they had both been talking to other firms since the beginning of the year.

Austin, who is leaving Simmons & Simmons after 15 years, says: “There is a difficult culture at Simmons. It is more difficult to expand roles. It is partly cultural and partly the way that the firm is organised.”

McKee, who has been at the firm for 12 years, says she is leaving to get back to the “grass roots” of fee earning.

“I want to broaden what I do. I have been in the rail practice for the last five years; I have done a lot of management in that time,” she says.

Tarpey adds that since the commercial property department has taken on a lot of projects and been involved in major property transactions, the department is also being expanded at junior level.

“We are recruiting newly-qualified lawyers with one to two years' experience,” he says.

Simmons & Simmons declined to comment.