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McKenna & Co has lost its entire 15-strong Lloyds team including its partners Robin Williams and Tim Burton to marine practice Hill Taylor Dickinson.
Williams, who started the team in a satellite Lloyds office 10 years ago and still heads it, said he and Burton had been looking for a move for two-and-a-half years but that McKennas' partnership terms prevented him from doing so.
It was only recently that McKennas scrapped its rule that 75 per cent of partners had to vote before one of them could leave the partnership.
Last week The Lawyer reported that McKennas was continuing merger talks with Cameron Markby Hewitt, after Denton Hall had dropped out of tripartite merger talks.
Williams said: "We realised that medium-sized firms like McKennas would be looking to merge to make themselves large corporate firms. Neither Tim nor I wanted to go in that direction. We would prefer to be with a niche marine practice that understands the way we work."
Another factor, he said, was that some overheads could be cut as part of a niche insurance practice.
The team, comprising six assistants, two para-legals and five support staff, will be moving from Lloyds to Hill Taylor's City offices. Williams said he did not mind this: "Lloyds is only three minutes away".
McKennas' senior partner Christopher Powell-Smith said he had known that the team had wanted to leave for some time. and added that litigation partners Tony Marks and Susan Barty were still present to take on insurance work.
Hill Taylor's insurance group leader Tim Taylor said his firm had decided six months ago to broaden its base on the insurance side - "particularly on the marine and reinsurance side".
Marine work accounts for 65 per cent of the firm's turnover.