New Alsops chief in operational review

Alsop Wilkinson's head of business development, Stewart McRorie, quit the firm shortly after the appointment of new chief executive Christopher Honeyman Brown.

Honeyman Brown, who is undertaking a far reaching review of Alsops' operations, denied there was any connection with his arrival from accountancy firm Binder Hamlyn where he was a partner.

“It is purely a coincidence. I think Stewart felt this was as good a time as any to make the break,” Honeyman Brown told The Lawyer. He has no immediate plans to replace him.

Colleagues said McRorie is on holiday in Singapore and was unavailable for comment.

Honeyman Brown said he would leave no stone unturned in his review of Alsops. It will include a look at the future of the firm's New York and Hong Kong offices. “No decisions have been made but, obviously, I want to look at everything we do,” he added.

His initial thoughts are to focus on areas where Alsops has an established reputation, such as banking, corporate finance and insolvency. But he also wants to do more to flag up the importance of the firm's other operations, such as property and insurance.

Honeyman Brown believes that lawyers have about two to three years to strengthen their market position before coming under pressure from accountancy firms.

Many accountants are considering the creation of associated legal practices to take on the profession on its home ground. Arthur Anderson has already done this and Price Waterhouse is following suit.

Honeyman Brown said: “Lawyers connected to accountants will initially get refer red work in areas such as profit share schemes and pensions. But once they become established, they will start to take on more and more work, especially corporate.”

But Honeyman Brown reckons the accountants can be counteracted if firms “focus on quality and getting and retaining the best people.”

As an ex-Binder Hamlyn partner, Honeyman Brown is liable for his share of a multi million pound damages claim won by security systems group ADT against the firm last December. He denied worrying about such a “silly” award. An appeal will be heard in 1997. “Our case is very strong,” he said.