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Tite & Lewis has cold-shouldered Ernst & Young's (EY) alliance, which look set to form a global network closely integrated with EY's non-audit practices.
Tite & Lewis's decision not to join the network leaves EY without a legal member in the key London market, but the major European law firms in EY's current network believe that the firm is too small to handle much of their referral work in any case.
The firm will remain outside the joint IT, branding and knowledge-sharing system, which will be introduced by EY Law's new global practice.
EY's affiliated US firm McKee Nelson, a tax litigation specialist, is prevented from joining the integrated network by Sarbanes-Oxley and will remain independent with a referral relationship.
Tite & Lewis is not prevented from joining by regulatory hurdles, but the new legal alliance is committed to close cooperation with all of EY's non-audit services, with which it intends to go to market. Tite & Lewis's strategy until now has been to go to market with EY and to stay very much at arm's length from the accountants.
Senior partner Christopher Tite said: "We don't want to close ourselves out of the market." He added that recruitment would be held back if Tite & Lewis was part of the global network.
The firm will retain a relationship with EY Global, which is similar to the referral system the firm has at the moment. Work is referred where it is deemed to be in the client's best interests and where Tite & Lewis's London office is judged to have the capacity to handle it.