Finers in talks with Stephens Innocent

Finers is understood to be merging with media specialist Stephens Innocent as yet another partner quits the troubled firm.

The merger talks are at an advanced stage, The Lawyer can reveal, after weeks of speculation over the firm, which is fronted by high-profile media lawyer Mark Stephens.

Finers' intervention will come as a surprise to City law firm Rakisons. Sources say Rakisons is unaware of the move by Finers, which ironically specialises in brokering mergers between firms, and believes its merger with Stephens Innocent is still on (The Lawyer, 4 October).

Finers, based in London's West End, is a 34-partner firm specialising in property, corporate and commercial work. The firm is recognised for its growing partnership practice.

Mark Stephens was in Paris organising the Law Society annual conference at Disneyland as The Lawyer went to press and was unavailable for comment.

The latest merger revelations come as Louis Charalambous, head of crime and civil liberties, becomes the fourth partner out of seven to quit Stephens Innocent in the last month.

He is joining Essex-based firm E. Edwards Son & Noice at the beginning of December and is understood to be taking his major clients with him, which include the BBC, Channel 5 and Demon Internet.

Highly regarded as an up-and-coming public law specialist, he will continue with his public law and media practice as well as heading up the criminal department. Senior partner Charles Newman says nobody else is joining the firm from Stephens Innocent. “Louis has some impressive clients.

“He says they will follow him, and we hope very much they will,” he adds.

Stephens Innocent has lost three other partners in the last month, with employment partner Deborah Annetts the last to announce her departure to Tarlo Lyons.

Finers refuses to comment.