News in brief

A round up of stories from the UK and around the world

Gowling Lafleur Henderson and Smith Lyons have merged to form Canada's second-largest firm. The merged firm now totals 700 fee-earners, while Canada's largest, McCarthy Tétrault, has just eight more, according to its figures at the end of June. The merger will strengthen Gowling's law and litigation practices, particularly in Toronto. Gowling now has seven offices in Canada and one in Moscow.
Steptoe & Johnson Rakinsons' senior partner Tony Wollenberg (left) has stepped down as executive chairman of financial betting company Zetters. He will become a non-executive director of the company. Wollenberg, who will be offered a consultancy option, will be compensated for the termination of his contract.
4 Breams Buildings has hired two tenants from Lord Goodhart QC's chambers 3 New Square. Maimon Schwarzschild is a professor of law and served in the Department of Justice during the Carter administration. He will continue to be based at the University of San Diego, California, while being contactable for work through 4 Breams Buildings. He specialises in European law, public international law and criminal procedure. Property specialist Camilla Lamont also joins the set.
Jones Day Reavis & Pogue has taken on three assistants and a senior assistant, all employment specialists from Hammond Suddards Edge. Senior assistant Michelle Haste joins the firm, together with Nicola Whiteley, Emmanuelle Ries and Mandy Perry.
Davies Lavery partners are to consider strategy after losing its largest client, Independent Insurance. In October, partners will gather for the firm's biannual meeting and discuss its future. Although the firm has secured Independent's run-off work, it is only a finite number of instructions and the firm has to revisit its strategic plan. Birmingham managing partner Claire McKinney (right) said: “What we're trying to do is concentrate on our emerging markets.” These are transit, professional indemnity, property and company and commercial. McKinney added: “We're predominantly an insurance firm, and that is what we'll stay.”
Carlton Television has lost in-house counsel Steve Lazarus in a return to Warner Music International (WMI) after only 10 months. Lazarus has left his role as controller of legal and business affairs, strategy and development within Carlton's production division to join WMI as director of business and legal affairs. The post at WMI has been newly-created in response to an increasing workload for the in-house team. Lazarus will report to Anne Mansbridge, senior vice-president of business and legal affairs. Lazarus and Mansbridge have worked together before, during Lazarus' time at Warner Music UK, the UK division of WMI.
Addleshaw Booth & Co M&A partner Mike McGrath has moved from the firm's Manchester office to London. McGrath joins the corporate finance team to lend weight to its plans for expansion. McGrath's arrival in the City increases the team headed by Tim Bee to 12. McGrath has particular expertise of cross-border transactions and has previously been seconded to US firm Kilpatrick Stockton.
Lovells' London and Hungarian offices provided advice on a pro bono basis to Worthing-based charity Partnership for Growth. The charity had established a hemp project to provide employment to the Albanian town Dedaj, which resulted in accusations that four Albanian farmers were growing cannabis. The charges were dropped when the authorities confirmed that the plants were in fact hemp, which the farmers intend to use to make rugs. Partner Louise Moore led the team.
The Lawyer, in an article in last week's special report on the North East titled 'Fight Club', inaccurately stated that the amount of compensation to be paid by Watson Burton to a former client was £150m. The correct figure, yet to be finalised, will be below £100,000. The firm had ceased acting for the client in question some years before the claim was raised. Watson Burton has also asked us to point out that the recruitment of two partners, Julian Gill and Roddy Gordon from Robert Muckle, predated the case and is totally unrelated to it.