Former Wilde Sapte partner joins Lovells as associate

Lovell White Durrant has snapped up Wilde Sapte partner Matthew French, who announced his decision to quit on the eve of the firm's merger with Denton Hall.

It is not thought French's decision to go is related to the creation of Denton Wilde Sapte, although several other Wilde Sapte partners are going in a post-merger rush.

French, who became a junior equity partner two years ago, is quitting the insolvency team after 10 years at Wilde Sapte.

French will join Lovell's insolvency and business restructuring group as a senior associate.

Robin Spencer, an insolvency partner at Lovells, says: “Clearly there is an issue of relative profitability between the two firms and Lovells also has very stringent criteria applied to those who seek partnership.”

In this year's The Lawyer 100 survey, Lovells outstrips Wilde Sapte in terms of profits per partner by almost double. Partners at Lovells earned £410,000 this year while Wilde Sapte partners notched up an average of £235,000.

French refuses to comment on his move. Sources say that his decision to join Lovells has nothing to do with Wilde Sapte and Denton Hall's merger, which was approved on 11 October.

It is believed French began discussions with the firm before negotiations between the merger partners began.

Spencer adds: “We hope that Matthew's appointment will lead to partnership in due course. We have high expectations of him.”

Mark Andrews, deputy chairman at Denton Wilde Sapte, says: “I wish him well in his new position.”

Other partners quitting Wilde Sapte include senior equity partners James Johnson, Nick Syson and Jonathan Shann. Johnson is understood to be in talks with Freshfields.