Forsters has scooped four more partners, who will join private client partner Charles Pike and senior US-based partner Patrick Harney, who joined the firm in November.
In a strongly worded statement, Withers said: “This is extremely premature. As Forsters well knows, our partnership agreement specifically forbids the Withers partners from joining other firms for considerable periods of time after their notices expire in August 2008.
“That is the agreement all partners freely enter into. We have informed Forsters of the position and we will be taking every step to enforce our partnership agreement.”
Landed estates specialists Andrew Lane and Penny Elliot, private client partner Catherine Hill and corporate partner Craigie Pearson are set to join Forsters. However, Forsters cannot confirm when the four are moving and sources close to Withers claim it could be another year before they are free from their contracts. Lane is already on gardening leave, while the remaining three are still with the firm.
Forsters managing partner Paul Roberts said the firm decided two years ago to double the size of its private client practice and in the last year it had grown by 25 per cent. He refused to comment on Withers’ statement.