Partners quit Dundas & Wilson

Dundas & Wilson – the leading Edinburgh firm currently in talks with Arthur Andersen – has lost three partners to rival firms and is considering hiving off its seven-partner private client practice.

The 50-partner commercial firm revealed it was talking to Andersens last month, but insists there will be no announcement for four to six weeks.

The departures and the firm's admission that it is reviewing the status of its private client practice appear to confirm that any link up with the Arthur Andersen Legal Network would have a major impact.

Among the defecting partners is the firm's Glasgow-based head of litigation Alayne Swanson who will move to Glasgow firm Maclay Murray & Spens.

She will join ex-Dundas corporate finance partner Michael Hughes, who moved to Maclays last week, and it is understood that the firm is in talks with other Dundas lawyers.

The third Dundas defection, commercial property partner John Murray, is leaving the firm within the next three months to help Edinburgh-based Shepherd & Wedderburn set up a Glasgow office.

Both Murray and Hughes declined to reveal the reasons behind their moves, and Swanson was not available for comment.

Neil Cochran, chairman at Dundas & Wilson, would not discuss the departure of the three partners. However, he did reveal that the private client department may demerge and operate as a standalone practice closely linked to Dundas.

Cochran said: “Our private client department is one of the strongest in Scotland, it will never be axed. But like many of the London firms, we are looking at the synergy between it and the rest of the firm.”