London firm Vizard Oldham is taking on a leading healthcare litigation partner from Capsticks in a drive to turn its focus away from insurance litigation.
With the appointment of Frances Clift, the 23-partner firm, which was formed out of the split of Vizards in May 1999, will have a team of four partners and five assistants doing healthcare litigation.
The firm is one of 18 on the panel of the National Health Service Litigation Authority, and Clift will deal with litigation on behalf of NHS bodies as well as general advisory work for the NHS.
Managing partner Richard Foster says: "Frances is someone who is well known within the NHS. NHS clients don't just want litigation work, although Frances will be doing that, but they also have a need for a lot of general advice on issues such as the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act. They are not core issues but they are very important issues which Frances has immense experience in."
The firm has grown to 23 partners from only 10 last May, and has moved away from its traditional insurance litigation roots - where it acts for clients such as St Paul Insurance, Zurich Municipal and Chubb Insurance.
Foster says: "We wanted very much to be an insurance litigation practice but not just one [practice]. What we wanted to have was a strong insurance litigation practice as part of a more balanced firm, and that we have achieved."
The firm is representing the NHS on a number of high profile group actions, including one involving the use of LSD for psychiatric patients.