Denton Hall loses team of eight to niche firm Llewelyn Zietman

In a major coup, the fast-growing niche IP practice Llewelyn Zietman has almost doubled, with the poaching of an eight-strong litigation team from Denton Hall, including highly-regarded partner James Irvine.

Irvine's team includes commercial litigation partner Gerard Cronin; fraud partner Miles Laddie, who joins as partnership secretary; two assistants, Helene Monsche and Stephen Ipp; and three paralegals.

Irvine is also bringing two of his former Denton Hall assistants to the new firm: commercial practitioner Ian MacDonald from the Toronto firm Davies Ward & Beck, who joins as a partner; and Nicky Wetherby, who was working in Australia but now rejoins Irvine's team as an associate.

Irvine said the move would put him in a better position to control his own decisions. “I can now act for a client in the type of work I'm interested in,” he said.

Llewelyn Zietman, which was launched in 1994 by ex-McKenna & Co lawyers Clive Zietman and David Llewelyn, now boasts nine partners and has more expansion plans in the pipeline.

“We've doubled in size overnight,” said Llewelyn. He said the additions had opened doors with new clients, and that he was expecting to announce more appointments in the coming few months.

At the beginning of the year US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius almost enticed Irvine away, along with Robert Goldspink, founder of its litigation team, but Denton Hall managed to persuade Irvine to stay at the last minute.

John Griffiths Jones, a spokesman for Denton Hall, said: “We're sad at the departure of any partner who has a reputation.”

He said the firm had a very broad-based IP capability both in the contentious and non-contentious side, and added: “We are building up our litigation capability. We will shortly be announcing the recruitment of additional capability at a high level.”