Two more department heads defect from Lyons Davidson

Bristol firm Lyons Davidson has lost two more heads of departments – bringing the number of partner defections to three in the last month.

Head of pensions Sarah Jeffrey-Gray and head of employment Jane Bridgwater have both joined Bristol rival Burges Salmon as associates.

Their moves follow the departure of the head of environmental and planning law Kevin Gibbs who left for Osborne Clarke at the beginning of February (The Lawyer, 31 January).

Jeffrey-Gray says she has taken the step because she was attracted by the larger firm. Burges Salmon has 41 partners as opposed to 19 at Lyons Davidson.

She says: “It’s a good opportunity to come over and be part of a larger and more exciting pensions team. There are about seven or eight of us here. I was the only pensions partner at Lyons Davidson.”

Gibbs says Lyons Davidson is concentrating its growth in insurance work, principally claimant and defendant personal injury.

One source in the Bristol legal market speculates that the firm may be on the look-out for a merger partner.

He says: “I would think the firm is lining itself up for some kind of insurance merger.

“It has very few equity partners and very high profits, so it could be very attractive.”

But Lyons Davidson senior partner Bernard Rowe says: “There’s no question of the firm setting itself up to merge or merging.

“Lyons Davidson remains an insurance and commercial services firm and it is expanding its business across the board.”