Former Mishcons partner launched dismissal claim

A MISHCON de Reya litigation partner has taken the unusual step of launching a complaint of unfair dismissal against her firm after she left before a grievance procedure had been concluded.

However Mishcons is insisting it is not in dispute with Paula Feldman – and will not comment on whether the case has settled.

Feldman, an equity partner at Mishcons who had been with the firm for 11 years, left the firm in June after initiating a grievance procedure.

The Lawyer has learned that she instructed lawyers Booth & Blackwell who registered a claim for unfair dismissal and breach of contract on her behalf on 7 July at North London Industrial Tribunal. Such a claim is rare, since a partner would find it difficult to argue that he or she is an employee.

Feldman was unavailable to comment on the case. A Mishcons spokeswoman said: “At present there is no dispute and I think you'll find Paula will tell you the same. Paula was a very valued member of the firm.”

Meanwhile, another Mishcons salaried partner, David Middleburgh, has left the firm after only a year, returning to Sinclair Roche & Temperley as an assistant, where he spent the previous three years.

Middleburgh is Sinclair Roche's only qualified licensed insolvency practitioner and also specialises in shipping and aviation. He said: “I left Sinclair Roche because at the time the offer from Mishcons [to become a partner] seemed like a step up in status. But more importantly it seemed like a very good opportunity to develop my insolvency practice. In retrospect it was not.”

Sinclair Roche had been seeing a steady stream of insolvency work in the last 18 months whereas Mishcons had not, he said. But he stressed that his departure was amicable. “I regard them as a good law firm but they do not have the right profile for me, personally, to develop my practice.”

Middleburgh is the latest in a string of partners to leave the firm in recent months.

A dispute with five partners who left the firm more than a year ago (Brian Hepworth, Peter Armstrong, Graham Stedman, Jonathan Berger and Paul Salmon) continues. The five, who have instructed Herbert Smith, would not comment on claims by The Sun that they were seeking around £700,000, with legal fees bringing the sum to around £1m.