Wragges property lawyers head off

SEVEN lawyers, four of whom are associates, have left the property department of Birmingham firm Wragge & Co in just three months.

Frustration at the lack of partnership opportunities and improvements in the property law job market have been cited as reasons for the departures by lawyers leaving the firm.

But senior partner John Crabtree said all vacancies had been filled and the firm had recruited even more solicitors.

In September last year there were nine partners and 37 other lawyers in the department.

Currently there are 10 partners and 40 lawyers.

In all, 13 lawyers have left the department over the past 12 months. Three of the 13 have moved to Eversheds in Birmingham, and three others to other Birmingham law firms.

John Hobbs, who left the firm in April to join the in-house team at Tarmac Construction in Wolverhampton, said improvements in the property sector had improved the job market. “During the property slump of the early Nineties Wragges, unlike other firms, did not lay people off. Now things have picked up people are being lured away. I suspect there are some attempts at poaching going on by the larger firms in the Birmingham area.”

Hobbs put his move down to a preference for in-house work.

Many of the others have moved to other parts of the country: one to Eversheds in Bristol, one to Pickering & Butters in nearby Stafford, one to McKenna & Co in London, and one to Dickinson & Dee in Newcastle.

It is understood several lawyers moved to obtain partnerships which they had not been able to secure in Wragges' property department.

One source said lawyers in the past few years had been recruited from London and made partners, while the Birmingham-trained staff had been largely passed over.

Another said: “The numbers speak for themselves. I saw an opportunity and took it. I enjoyed my time there and am grateful. The department has a very high standard. The firm has grown quite a lot, there is a slightly different culture as a firm gets bigger and becomes more corporate-orientated.”

The seven recent departees are: Hobbs; Fiona O'Kane, an associate partner for two years, who resigned this month to go to Eversheds in Bristol; Robert Sprake, Jane Ainsworth and associate partner Barry Fisher, who resigned this month or last to go to Eversheds in Birmingham; Joel Kordan, an associate partner for two years, who resigned in May for Gateley Waring in Birmingham; and Stephen Jackson, an associate partner for seven years, who left in April to go to Dickinson Dees in Newcastle.