TJG builds on collapse of niche construction merger

CITY firm Taylor Joynson Garrett (TJG) has scooped a team of top construction lawyers following the failed merger of niche construction firms Freedmans and Church & Church.

Freedman Church was formed early last year, with mutual benefits expected from the united forces of Church & Church's international focus and Freedmans' strong UK client base.

In a survey of law firms with construction departments conducted by The Lawyer in June last year, Freedman Church ranked fifth, ahead of Freshfields and Clifford Chance.

Freedman Church's senior partner Peter Shaw said the merger failed because of a communication breakdown.

Shaw, former senior partner of Freedmans, said Church & Church partners spent most of their time with overseas clients.

“We could never work out what they were doing and they didn't know what we were doing,” said Shaw. “It was affecting morale and making it impossible to make decisions in the secure knowledge they were approved by the partners who were not around to talk with.”

All but one of the lawyers originally with Freedmans are joining TJG. Shaw, Christopher Bourgeois and Laurence Cobb are joining as partners, supported by fee earners Ian Pease, Philip Mirabelli and Don Pugh.

Shaw and Bourgeois are both listed in the Chambers & Partners Directory as leaders in construction. So, too, is Victoria Russell, originally of Freedmans, who is joining London litigation and commercial law practice, Berrymans.

The three Church & Church partners – Althea Church, John Church and John Goodman – are re-establishing their original firm. Althea Church said the demerger would not affect the firm's work. “Our clients have stayed exactly the same,” she said, adding that the merged firms had failed to function as one.

TJG expects the new team to offer a considerable boost to its existing construction group.

Managing partner Richard Marsh said: “The construction group's enlarged resources will also augment work in other specialist groups in the firm, particularly commercial property, energy and project finance.”