Garretts' head of IP/IT, Richard Kemp, is leaving the firm at the end of this month to set up his own practice.
Kemp, one of London's top information technology lawyers, only joined five-year-old Garretts in July 1995 from Hammond Suddards. In that time he has recruited about 10 IT/IP lawyers and built up billings of £1.8m to £2m a year.
Kemp, who is also head of Arthur Andersens' IT/IP European network, said he was unable to comment on his departure, other than to confirm that he was leaving to set up on his own. But one source said Kemp had been disappointed that most of his work came from clients he had brought in himself rather than from those referred by Andersens.
Kemp had initially intended to join Chris Arnheim in founding Price Waterhouse's embryonic law firm but decided to join Garretts instead, partly because Andersens – and particularly Andersen Consulting – had a bigger IT clientele.
Andersen Consulting is currently engaged in a bitter battle to break its ties with the accountancy side, and it is understood that it was not keen to refer its clients to the accountants, who effectively host Garretts.
Kemp is also understood to be keen to have control of his own destiny. “If you are building up your own practice, why shouldn't you have control of the profits?” said one lawyer.
One partner in a rival firm commented: “He has always been very much his own man and likes to run his own show.”
Garretts lost Leeds-based IT partner Richard Boardman this summer when he left to manage folk-rock band and client The Kelly Family. London IT assistant Mark Sherwood-Edwards has also left. In 1995, Garretts' former IT/IP head Marcus O'Leary left the Reading office to set up his own practice in the town.
An Andersens spokesman said there were five IP/IT partners and 30 other lawyers in the field spread across Garretts and Dundas & Wilson. He said partner Alison Harrington would take over Kemp's London work from Reading. “I don't think we're in any great rush to replace him,” he added.