Westminster practice Bircham & Co has landed six partners and seven assistants from Bower Cotton, leaving the City outfit with just two partners.
The announcement is the climax of a three-year expansion programme at Bircham & Co, in which the firm has tried to remould itself into a full-service law firm.
The firm is traditionally strong in private client, charities and parliamentary work, but has come under pressure to strengthen its commercial arm.
Nicholas Brown, executive committee chairman, says: “This is a win win situation and we are delighted to have secured the services of these key team members from Bower Cotton. They will enhance the firm considerably in our commercial practice and take our total number to more than 210 people.”
The team leaving Bower Cotton comprises managing partner Guy Vincent, joining Birchams’ commercial department, partners Paul Shaerf, Michael Parker, Bob Perrin and Andy Smith, who will join property, and Andrew Couch who will go to litigation.
Seven assistants and several administrative and support staff are also leaving.
Guy Vincent says: “We are pleased to be joining a larger firm. Our contribution will complement the existing practice, providing strength in the corporate and commercial property sides of the practice.”
Birchams has acquired new premises in Victoria Street as a stopgap before the whole firm moves into its new 40,000 sq ft HQ in 2001.
Last year Birchams expanded its private client team with three lawyers from Rowe & Maw and one from Nabarro Nathanson. Simon Smith, head of corporate at Manches, joined around the same time, alongside Radcliffes’ charities partner Paul Voles.
Brown says: “We are now in a position to tender for work for which strength in depth is required. If there is a property aspect to a deal we now have 13 lawyers who can get on it.
“We are not competing with the mega-firms and we want to retain our personal service.”
Bower Cotton’s name will go out of existence, and only two ex-partners will remain at its Whitefriars Street base under the name The Bower Cotton Partnership.