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Newly-founded Swansea practice Morgan LaRoche has hired two more Morgan Cole lawyers as partners and has been approached by Morgan Cole clients, including Associated British Ports, Shimano and Liberty Properties
Partners at Morgan LaRoche have already signed up more than 170 clients since leaving Morgan Cole last summer. They were put on six-month gardening leave before launching the Morgan LaRoche practice early this year. The latest arrivals at the new partnership are property lawyers Kevin Thomas and Jonathan Hughes, which has left Morgan Cole's Swansea property practice heavily depleted. It is understood that housing association work has been moved to the firm's Cardiff office as a result. Firmwide head of property Philip Jardine declined to comment. Thomas and Hughes bring the Morgan LaRoche partnership total up to nine. They join founding property partners Tarquin Hall, Rosemary Morgan, Chris Cann and William Waters, who were followed by insurance and employment partner Timothy Jones, commercial lawyer William Barletta, and construction lawyer Steve Mundy. Cann said of the firm's new team: "We have now assembled a lively and experienced team with all of the skills that we feel we need to be able to offer our clients." The focus will now be on hiring non-partner fee-earners. Among the clients to have approached Morgan LaRoche are leisure owner, operator and developer Luminar and fishing and bicycle specialist Shimano. Morgan LaRoche is already acting for Liberty Properties and Swansea-based property investment company RGD. The firm finally reached a settlement with Morgan Cole late last month, ending a long-running dispute over whether a geographical covenant could prevent it from opening close to its old firm (The Lawyer, 4 March). Morgan Cole withheld capital from the founding group to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds because of a covenant aimed at preventing partners from opening a legal practice within five miles of any of its offices. Having served their notice periods, the Morgan LaRoche founding partners did not accept that this was enforceable and opened two and a half miles away in Swansea. It is understood that the Morgan LaRoche partners have now had some capital returned to them, but have had to agree to certain restrictions as to clients they can and cannot work for or solicit work from.