Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) is to make litigation the linchpin of the firm, signalling the end of any pretence at focusing on transactional practices.

New head of commercial litigation Julian Randall told The Lawyer: “Our hook is that we are purely litigators so are not out to steal away clients.”

The strategy refocus follows the departure of the majority of the firm’s corporate and commercial partners, and the long, slow death of the firm’s transactional practices.

“We want to sell ourselves to commercial and corporate-heavy firms that don’t have large litigation practices,” said Randall.

Randall wants to increase the level of referrals BLG receives from other law firms, but a former BLG partner said that the strategy was a “double-edged sword”.

“Barlows needs direction at the moment and this will do that, but it could backfire in relation to the corporate transactional side of the business,” said the partner.

The focus on commercial litigation is also thought to have upset some partners in the firm’s insurance and reinsurance teams, who feel sidelined by the new emphasis.