Withers and Speechly Bircham call it a day

It could have been a £170m business, edging the top 20 of The Lawyer UK200.

It could have been a £170m business, edging the top 20 of The Lawyer UK200. But the news today that the talks are off means that Withers and Speechly Bircham join the roll call of Field Fisher Waterhouse and Lawrence Graham, Addleshaws and Nabarro, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Osborne Clarke, and Dundas & Wilson and Bircham Dyson Bell.

In the last couple of weeks wedding bells and confetti looked a long way off. The votes were scheduled for separate days, never a sign of confidence.

Sources close to Withers suggest that the firm’s powerful private client and family groups were the arch-opponents of the merger. The prospect of toys, prams and posh tantrums was clearly too much for the management, particularly given that the group contributes 51 per cent of the firm’s entire turnover.

What next for both firms? Speechly Bircham remains a prime acquisition target for all those firms wanting to bulk up in London, while Withers partners’ rebuff to their management means that it might be a while before the firm comes back into play.

But you know what, all’s well that ends well. For according to the official statement, “the talks have enhanced the respect that both firms have for each other”. As goodbyes go, it isn’t entirely effusive.

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