Lewis Silkin drops Farnham office

Westminster firm Lewis Silkin is disposing of its Farnham conveyancing office at the end of this week as part of a major change in direction for the firm.

The move will mean laying off five paralegals, with three legal executives joining the London office. The only assistant solicitor in the Farnham office has already left to join a Woking firm.

Farnham partner Patrick Rees is moving to eight-partner Bristol commercial firm Trumps along with Westminster-based partner Richard Waller. Waller headed the firm's “services to lenders” practice, which advises mortgage lenders such as Bank of Ireland and Birmingham Midshires on repossessions.

Lewis Silkin senior partner Roger Alexander said: “The Farnham office does high-volume low-value work for residential lenders – mostly conveyancing and mortgage repossessions. We took the decision that we are in the value-added end of the market rather than the factory end.”

Trumps managing partner Robert Bourns said the two ex-Lewis Silkins partners would bring their lending clients with them to join the firm's existing lending clients, Woolwich and Bristol & West.

He said of Lewis Silkins' new strategy: “All West End practices have to make up their minds whether to take on the big boys in the City or try to compete in the mid-market sector serviced by the larger regional practices.”

Alexander said his firm's decision was not influenced by the economic climate: “It is about the strategy of the firm to concentrate on London and the commercial sector.”

As part of that strategy, the firm has recently launched an initiative advising the advertising industry's three trade bodies. A model form of agreement between the advertiser and the agency was negotiated. Alexander said: “This is the first time the major industry bodies have got together to agree model terms.”