In a shock move, DJ Freeman is effectively splitting in two: a large proportion of the media and property groups is joining Olswang, while the insurance department will set up independently.

It is understood that DJ Freeman chief executive Laurence Harris and head of litigation Kevin Perry will remain as part of the new insurance firm. A source suggested that a rebranding of the streamlined firm is likely to follow.

The bulk of the core property practice, including heavyweights Jonathan Lewis and Michael Cassidy, will join Olswang along with most of the media team, including star performer Susan Aslan and head of the technology and media group Tony Leifer.

It is likely that Aslan will take key client Channel 4 with her, but it is thought that most of the contentious IT work and all of the intellectual property work will go with Alex Carter-Silk to Manches.

The move was an agreed deal between Olswang and DJ Freeman. Internal meetings are to be held this afternoon (12 March) to announce the agreements to staff.

Last week, DJ Freeman’s property finance team, thought to be one of the more profitable groups, left for a new home at DLA.