The Lawyer understands that DJ Freeman previously had the lion's share of the work, while Lawrence Graham had a smaller portion. Under the new arrangement, the property investment work is expected to be split 50-50 between SJ Berwin and Lawrence Graham.
DJ Freeman's involvement with the fund goes back to its historic relationship with Equity & Law, which was bought out by AXA.
The appointment represents a step up for SJ Berwin in its relationship with AXA. It already acts for Sun Life Assurance Society and some smaller funds, but the win adds the largest and most active fund in the AXA stable to SJ Berwin's books.
SJ Berwin, Lawrence Graham and DJ Freeman all declined to comment on the new arrangement.
In a further, but unrelated, blow, DJ Freeman has also lost head of property finance John Clark and three of his fellow partners to DLA.
As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com/lawyer news, partners Terry Green, Stephen O'Brien and Helen Dyer will move with Clark, taking four assistants to DLA. The four partners all joined DJ Freeman from Stones Porter in 1998, giving DJ Freeman a significant foothold in property finance.
DJ Freeman's highly-rated head of property litigation Viviene King has also decided to retire from the firm. The Lawyer understands that King, who plans to move out of the London area, will work in some capacity for Bond Pearce.
DJ Freeman chief executive Laurence Harris said he was sad to see King leave. “She has made an excellent contribution to the practice for several years,” he added.