Accountancy-tied firms begin talks

Accountancy-tied law firms Tite & Lewis and Arnheim & Co have begun formal talks to merge, following last week's regulatory clearance for the merger of their parents Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse respectively.

But Chris Arnheim, founding Arnheim & Co partner, conceded that the brand name and management structure of the combined legal practice would ultimately be up to the two “sponsoring” accountancy firms.

He said: “The most important aspect is the relationship with our sponsors. If we negotiate something between ourselves but the sponsor doesn't like it, we might have to reassess it.”

Arnheim has had contact with Chris Tite and Mark Lewis since their respective sponsors announced their plans to merge, but they have not yet discussed a name for the merged law firm.

He said he had not yet looked into Law Society regulations on names but was aware that rules were changing to allow the use of names other than that of partners.

A merged Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse will want to brand its legal practice with its own name.

Arnheim expected the law firm merger to go ahead sometime between July and September and that by that time the combined firm would have around 100 lawyers. “I am very excited about it,” said Arnheim.

Arnheim & Co currently has 42 lawyers, with Tite & Lewis a similar size.