Forsytes consigned to history

WEST END firm Forsyte Saunders Kerman will split in September with its 11-partner property department going to Lawrence Graham and six partners going to Holborn insurance litigation practice Edward Lewis.

The 19-partner Forstyes has shrunk from 30 partners since it formed after the merger of Forsyte Kerman with Saunders Sobell Leigh & Dobin in December 1994.

It decided 12 months ago to strengthen its presence in all practice areas and has been looking for another merger partner ever since.

Six of the eight partners from litigation, private client and commercial departments, including senior partner Paul Di Biase, will join Edward Lewis.

Of the other two, litigator Anthony Kerman, son of Forsyte Kerman founder Isidore Kerman, will continue the family name by setting up his own firm. Co-incidentally his father died the day before the split was announced last week. The destination of corporate specialist Daniel O'Connell is not yet known.

The Lawyer revealed that talks were taking place with Lawrence Graham this February.

It is believed Lawrence Graham was only ever interested in Forstyes' highly-rated property team. The team lost revenue when the firm was taken off Legal & General's industrial and office property panel at the end of last year.

The merger will bring its current 43-lawyer property team to 80 fee earners, catapulting it into the top ten City departments.

Forstyes chief executive, accountant Jonathan Freedman, who is joining the Chiltern Group as finance director, stressed: “We were very happily profitable.

“But the ground we occupy, as a medium-sized firm, is being increasingly squeezed.”