Mishcon de Reya's biggest biller, banking partner Stephen Davis, is to come out of the firm's equity along with commercial partner David Harvey.

Anthony Julius, a Mishcons senior partner, said the two will have consultancy status at the firm. Davis, who is said to bill up to £1.5m a year, is to work two-and-a-half days a week in-house for Austrian bank RZB Austria.

It is believed Harvey has left the equity after a dispute with the firm's remuneration committee, although Julius declined to comment. Davis, however, said there had been no dispute over remuneration.

In November last year, leading employment lawyer, barrister Gillian Howard, a con- sultant with the firm for two years, left to set up on her own following a disagreement with Julius over the terms of her consultancy.

Howard said: “I had hoped our association would be mutually beneficial. But my expectations from a professional point of view were not met.”

Meanwhile, five partners who left Mishcons in an acrimonious public dispute towards the end of 1995 are still in dispute with the firm. Peter Armstrong, Paul Salmon, Graham Stedman and salaried partner, Jonathan Berger, who went to Theodore Goddard, and Brian Hepworth, who went to Goodman Derrick, along with two assistants, have instructed Herbert Smith to represent them.

There are now four more former Mishcon's assistants working at Theodore Goddard. The five would not comment on the reasons for their dispute.

Julius said: “I am personally not aware of any continuing issues. There were one or two issues but we decided not to pursue them. I have not even thought about it in months.”

It is also understood that last September, after Mishcons' personnel manager Norma Williamson was dismissed, she instructed solicitors Bird & Bird to act for her and obtained a settlement from her old firm.

Mishcons has this year recruited two litigation lawyers into the partnership. Banking lawyer Michael Gleeson came from Lincoln's Inn commercial practice Kingsford Stacey, and Nicole Hanes, who was a shipping lawyer, but not a partner, was brought in from Ingledews, the firm from which four of six partners merged with Berrymans in December 1996.