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Berrymans Lace Mawer's senior insurance partner is resurfacing at Badhams Thompson, as the two firms continue with merger talks.
As exclusively revealed by The Lawyer (5 June), Tim Oliver, a senior insurance partner, is joining Badhams Thompson as an equity partner, having decided not to return to Berrymans after a month-long secondment.
It is understood that the two firms are still in talks after announcing their intention to merge just under a year ago.
But with a merger on the horizon, one source says that he is puzzled as to why Oliver is joining a firm which could potentially become part of the practice he has just left.
He says: "I just can't understand that. It makes absolutely no sense at all."
One insurance lawyer has suggested that Oliver may be joining Badhams to "spring clean" the firm before it merges with Berrymans.
It is understood that Oliver, who has been with Berrymans for 14 years, is leaving because he is concerned that the firm is expanding too quickly in a contracting market.
The source says: "[Oliver] found a firm which used to be small with a good client base and which was not exploited. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s [Berrymans] did, however, build it up."
But he adds: "Through the rest of the 1990s, the Woolf Reforms had a massive impact on insurance litigation."
It is understood that both Oliver's and Badhams Thompsons' clients, which also include AXA Insurance, are "very comfortable" with him going to another panel firm.
Badhams, Berrymans and Oliver declined to comment.