Partners in name only

At first sight the partner exodus at Simmons & Simmons and Dibb Lupton Alsop appear unrelated.

Simmons has lost 15 partners in 13 months, largely due to the imposition of binding contracts forced on partners by previous managing partner Alan Morris, while Dibbs' partner exodus has been attributed to a tough management style in the pursuit of new clients.

With US firms banging on the door and offering British partners £1m salaries, some UK firms have responded by either imposing a more aggressive, confrontational style – or forcing new work practices on partners. The problem with such approaches is that the use of the term "partner" becomes increasingly irrelevant.

"Partners" are supposed to share responsibility and be involved in the day to day running of the firm, not be treated like junior managers.

The new breed of aggressive managers may believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its partners, but do the partners themselves?