London firm Vizard Oldham is launching a family law department just four months after forming out of the split of insurance litigation specialists Vizards.
Vizard Oldham retained the private client work when 20 partners left to merge with insurance firm Bannisters under the name Vizards Staples & Bannisters. It is now keen to carve out its own niche.
Julia Snow, the former managing partner at Hertfordshire firm Woolley & Weston, joined Vizard Oldham two months ago to lead the new department.
"We decided this was too specific an area to be lurking under the private client department," says Snow.
"The work was growing and we felt it needed a department of its own."
Vizard Oldham plans to recruit experienced lawyers from the family practice area who will bring work in with them.
"We will not have an aggressive poaching policy," says Snow. "But we are looking for people with an expertise and following in their area."
Senior partner Richard Foster says the firm was determined after the split not to remain a specialist insurance firm. "We wanted to build on our strong private client reputation and a specialist family law department seemed the obvious choice," he says.
"We already did a lot of matrimonial work but we are not named among the leading family law departments.
"We are not going to dabble in this, we want to make it into the top league."
Vizard Oldham has recruited three other partners since the split, including John Lackington, previously a partner at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, who has joined the firm's clinical negligence department.