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The strength of client relationships will always shine through when times are tough. Stephen Allinson, a former partner with Clarke Willmotts Taunton office, is grateful for client support after he was expelled from the partnership for allegedly fixing his expenses.
Following twenty years with the firm, specialising in insolvency law, Allinson was ousted over what sources claim to be around 3,000 worth of expenses claimed over a three-year period.
Clarke Willmott managing partner David Sedgwick has referred Allinson to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for further investigation. Staff and clients were told of Allinson's departure the morning after he left. Sedgwick said no client money was involved.
Within a week The Lawyer received three calls from Allinsons former clients who came out in defence of his reputation. This has left Clarke Willmott in a bit of a pickle- the firm cannot comment until the SRA finishes it investigations and at least one of its clients is threatening to review its relationship with the firm.
Accountancy firm Baker Tilly came out fighting first. Head of personal insolvency Louise Brittain said she had forged a strong relationship with Allinson over the past 20 years and was committed to supporting him all the way, adding: "I can't believe there has been any purposeful wrongdoing at all - I'm slightly bemused by this. We're reviewing our relationship with Clarke Willmott and will be taking this into consideration."
Grant Thornton recovery and reorganisation partner Kevin Hellard said he had worked with Allinson since the early 1990s and was "very shocked" to hear of his expulsion. "He was a great ambassador to the firm," he said.
It says something when individuals are prepared to go against the party line and speak out- on the record. All this goes to show how the strength of client relationships can come in handy. Even if the SRA finds the allegations to be true, Allinson can be confident that he will take some clients to his new firm Moon Beever where he will be a consultant.
Take note, future lawyers- the client is always king.