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News that CMS Cameron McKenna is to transform its legacy insurance practice into a dispute resolution group is yet more evidence that the legal market is having to re-invent itself to keep pace with changes in the wider economy.
Unlike many of the firms featured on Legal Job Watch, Camerons has trumpeted its desire to re-house its staff rather than make redundancies in response to the downturn.
Take the seven associates in real estate who found their jobs under review in October. One has taken up a post in Moscow while the others have moved into different departments, with a little retraining to ease the transition.
The shift towards insurance litigation seems to be an extension of that policy. While non-contentious insurance work has tailed off, disputes are on the increase. So why not move with the times? Change or die, seems to be managing partner Duncan Weston’s mantra.
Commendable as this might seem, not everyone at Camerons will welcome the latest move. CMS Cameron McKenna was formed when insurance specialist Cameron Markby Hewitt merged with City firm McKenna & Co in 1997. Many of the partners working in the Leadenhall Street office, which houses the insurance practice, are Markby Hewitt veterans and one has already decided to pack his bags.
Former head of insurance Anthony Hobkinson will leave at the end of the financial year to pursue other opportunities, possibly to be an in-house role according to sources at the firm.
It seems likely that others will follow but then Weston’s appetite for change was never going to everyone’s cup of tea.
Weston says the partnership is behind him. When the disputes group takes shape at the end of the year, we will find out whether that is the case.