Liverpool firm Silverbeck Rymer has lost its entire company and commercial department just two years after plans to expand the practice.
Three partners, all of whom joined the firm within the last 24 months - Clive Mackintosh, John Shield and Howard Jones - quit the firm last month to set up a new firm, JST Mackintosh.
They take with them two assistants and 13 other staff to the new firm which officially opens in September.
Jim Rymer, senior partner at Silverbeck Rymer, which now has six partners re-sponded to the defection by claiming that the firm would concentrate on its insurance litigation work, which accounts for nearly 90 per cent of its gross fees.
He also said that Mackintosh, a member of the management committee and most junior of the equity partners, was not happy with his junior status when he could be "king pin" in his own firm.
Mackintosh, senior partner at the new firm, said the firm would practice insurance and commercial litigation alongside its general company and commercial work.