Double blow for Lovells as four partners make tracks

LOVELL White Durrant has lost Tokyo partner Robert Lee, while in London it has emerged that several more high-profile London partners are departing.

Lee is leaving to set up his own practice in Tokyo dealing mainly with Japanese clients.

He joined the firm from his 15-lawyer Hong Kong practice Robert Lee & Fong more than two years ago with three other fee earners.

He had been working from Lovells' Tokyo office for the past year.

David Baker, Lovells' resident partner in Tokyo, said: “I think he decided it would be easier for him running his own practice.”

Baker added: “Robert had been used to operating in his own way.”

Baker said Lee would continue sharing the Tokyo office and Lovells would provide support on some transactions.

Rumours that Lovells was to pull out of Tokyo were discounted by Baker, who confirmed that the office, opened in 1990, would continue to run.

Back in London, it emerged that three high-profile Lovells partners are leaving next year with joint managing partner Michael Maunsell and banking partner Catherine Allinson, whose departures were revealed by The Lawyer last month.

The departing partners are: pensions partner Harriet Dawes, Maunsell's wife, who has been with the firm for 19 years and will be 53 on retiring; corporate partner Patrick Phillips, managing partner at Lovells from 1985-87, who will be 56 on leaving and has been with the firm for 32 years; and corporate tax partner Chris Major who will be 48 and has been with the firm 25 years.

All the partners say they have no firm plans for their new careers but want a change from working in a law firm.

Despite all the changes, one ex-employee commented that Lovells was performing well as a whole. However, he said there was always a question mark over the Tokyo office. He added that most foreign offices in Tokyo were losing money.