News in Brief

Winston & Strawn, the Chicago firm, is poised to merge with the New York office of Whitman Breed Abbott & Morgan to boost its City presence to 250 lawyers. The talks, which were revealed in The Lawyer (27 March), have been finalised and Winston & Strawn partners will finish voting today. A merger is due to be announced this week. The Los Angeles office of Whitman Breed is not linking up, but is expected to join another West Coast practice. The merger gives Winston & Strawn one of the five biggest branch offices in New York, boosting its project finance, corporate, M&A and litigation departments.

Dawson & Co has hired a new partner to lead its company commercial department. Michael Edwards joins the team of three from Edwin Coe in September. Dawson & Co senior partner Kenneth Wood hopes that the appointment will add balance to the firm, which has been growing rapidly in other areas.

Lawrence Graham is operating a new independent Dispute Adjudication Service for internet bank first-e. The service, headed by independent mediator and former Clifford Chance partner Tony Willis as an independent adjudicator, will be an ombudsman and make rulings which will be binding for the bank but not the customer.

3 Verulam Buildings has recruited senior banking junior Michael Lazarus of 1 Crown Office Row [Mark Strachan QC] to strengthen the banking set. Lazarus is a commercial and business lawyer who specialises in banking and finance in both the domestic and international markets.

Freeth Cartwright Hunt Dickins, the east Midlands law firm, has been appointed as external legal adviser to the British Psychological Society. The society has 32,000 members and carried out a review of its needs before choosing the firm to act for the honorary officers, the chief executive and the management team.

O’Melveny & Myers, the West Coast US firm, has made insolvency partner Adrian Harris head of its London office. Harris takes over the helm from banking and finance partner Jim DeMeules who came over from the US in April as temporary head when Christopher Hall left for Dutch telecoms company KPNQuest.

Addleshaw Booth & Co has announced a turnover of £61.4m for the year ended 31 January – an increase of 25 per cent on the previous year’s figures. Profitability is also up from 29 per cent to 31 per cent. Managing partner of the London office Simon Twigton adds that the firm is due to increase its assistant rates to just less than magic circle levels.

Linklaters & Alliance’s Paris office has lost a corporate partner to Paris law firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier. Oliver Diaz is leaving Linklaters after just under two years, after joining the firm from Gide Loyrette Nouel together with highly rated M&A lawyers Thierry Vassogne and Marc Loy.

Fountain Court’s chambers director is leaving. Ric Martin, who was the first chambers director at the set, will depart in August, although it is not yet clear where he will move to. His departure means that none of the magic circle sets now have a chambers director or chief executive.

Herbert Smith is losing trust and charities partner Clive Cutbill to private client specialist Withers. Cutbill has been at Herbert Smith since qualifying in 1985 and has been a partner since 1995, working on private client, charity and other trust-related matters. He will join Withers as a partner in September.

Dechert, the newly merged transatlantic practice of Titmuss Sainer Dechert and US firm Dechert Price & Rhoads, is making up three solicitors to partnership. Securitisation lawyer Richard Ambery, employment lawyer Jason Butwick and commercial litigation lawyer Michael Cushing have all gained promotion in the new 580-lawyer firm.

Zurich Professional has unveiled its panel of law firms which will provide advice on solicitors indemnity. Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, Hill Dickinson and Weightmans have all been selected as part of the 10-strong legal panel.