Pannone partner duo risk capital to leave Slater & Gordon early

Two former Pannone personal injury big-hitters have become the latest to break the three-year lock in to leave Slater & Gordon, moving to ABS rival Irwin Mitchell.

Catherine Leech and Deirdre Healy handed their notice in earlier this month and have been placed on three months’ gardening leave before joining Irwin Mitchell as consultants in Manchester.

Leech and Healy were both equity partners at Pannone. It is thought they risk losing between £250,000 and £500,000 of capital plus any contingent shares and earn out bonuses by leaving the firm early.

Leech is a serious injury specialist, focused on cases of maximum severity injury relating to both traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, while Healy specialises in maximum severity injury and fatal accident cases, serious head and amputation injuries. Her cases include representing families affected by the Lockerbie Air crash and individuals damaged by thalidomide. 

The duo were the national practice development heads for spinal injury and brain injury cases at Slater & Gordon.

Last week, The Lawyer reported the departures of construction partner Sean McCay and travel injury partner Clare Campbell within six months of Manchester-based Pannone being acquired by consumer giant Slater & Gordon (21 August 2014).

Market sources have suggested a link between the departures and a request by Slater & Gordon for Pannone partners to meet a shortfall in cash after the acquired business fell short of its year-end revenue projection in March.

Slater & Gordon’s preliminary financial report to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) earlier this month showed UK revenues broke through the £100m barrier, with an 119 per cent increase in turnover from £46.1m to £101m (A$182.5m) for the 2013/14 financial year (12 August 2014).

Details of the tie up between Slater & Gordon and Pannone were revealed by The Lawyer in September 2013, when sources close to the firm said a period of due diligence was underway (20 September 2013). Slater & Gordon finally broke its silence in November and confirmed that it was in tie-up talks with Pannone following months of silence about the top-level discussions (11 November 2013).

Pannone was the firm’s fifth merger in a year, following the acquisitions of the personal injury practice of Taylor Vinters (19 August 2013), Goodmans (30 August 2013), Fentons (21 August 2013) and John Pickering & Partners (24 October 2013).

Slater & Gordon head of UK Neil Kinsella was unwilling to comment on individual departures.