Dibbs suffers partner exodus

Dibb Lupton Alsop is suffering a partner exodus with its head of insolvency in Manchester the latest to quit, as the firm struggles to make its merger gel.

The departure of insolvency lawyer, Peter Manning, who resigned last week, comes amid claims that the firm has lost up to 20 partners in the last six months.

Dibbs furiously refutes this, saying that only half that number have left.

Sources within the firm are blaming the exodus on a “settling down” period following the merger of Leeds-based Dibb Lupton Broomhead and Liverpool firm Alsop Wilkinson in 1996.

“There is a cultural difference,” says one insider, adding: “You can tell a Yorkshireman, but you can't tell him much.”

More than 30 partners are thought to have gone in the last year, including 15 from the London-based office alone.

The firm says the figure is actually much lower, but refuses to say exactly how many have left.

“I don't consider it relevant,” says Nigel Knowles, Dibbs' managing partner.

Manning is going to Simmons & Simmons. Fellow insolvency partners in the London office – Mike Stubbs and Nicholas Pike – have already started at Lawrence Graham.

Some of Dibbs' biggest losses have been in insurance. Susan Dingle, head of reinsurance, went to Norton Rose last week.

The firm says the insolvency and insurance departments are going through a restructuring process and promises new signings in the coming months.

Professional indemnity partner Chris Sharrock and senior associate David Sullivan are also leaving for Kennedys, while partner Brian McKendry is heading for Hammond Suddards.

One insider says: “People wanted to give it [the new firm] a trial. But they don't like it and it's not got any better.”

The source claims Alsop partners are least satisfied with the new regime at the merged firm. But, according to another source, partners from Dibbs and Alsops are leaving in equal numbers.

The departures are occurring despite Dibbs having its most successful year ever and it is likely to record profits per partner in excess of £275,000.

Knowles says: “If you don't fit in with our vision, there is no alternative but a parting of the ways. This is actually good, because you can only have a business where all the partners identify with what you are trying to achieve.”