Irwin Mitchell London employment head quits for Wragges

Irwin Mitchell London employment head John Hayes has quit to join Wragge & Co, just days chief executive John Pickering announced his retirement from the firm.

Hayes will join Wragge & Co’s 28-strong employment team ahead of the firm’s merger with Lawrence Graham (LG) in May 2014 (11 December 2013). The pair decided to merge at the end of last year to create a £170m combined firm under the brand Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.

His exit follows the shock departure of Irwin Mitchell chief John Pickering earlier this week, who said he was to step down after 37 years at the helm (2 April 2014).  Personal legal services head Andrew Tucker has succeeded him as group chief executive with effect from last Monday (31 March). 

Wragge’s employment team will expand with its upcoming merger, going from 28 to 33 fee earners including nine partners, up from seven at Wragges.

In signing up to the soon-to-be joined Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, Hayes is also leaving a firm famous for its plans to expand through mergers on the back of the Legal Services Act implementation.

Irwin Mitchell became the first to show its hand on ABS, gaining approval from the SRA in 2012 after becoming the first business to be granted multiple licences for the range of businesses within its structure (20 August 2012).

Its latest acquisition was the former recoveries arm of defunct Manchester-based Halliwells, HL Interactive, in a deal that completed in February (4 March 2014). Since it became an ABS in 2012 the firm has completed five deals, acquiring PDP Management Services in October 2012 (12 October 2012), Elliot Davies and Fraser Gowrie Johnston last Spring and personal injury firm MPH Solicitors in November (14 November 2013).

However at the end of last year it lost six partners and a team of 24 lawyers in Manchester to TLT including employment partner Ed Cotton, corporate partner Jon Close and commercial litigation partners John Lord and Julien Luke.

That followed the news that Irwin Mitchell commercial litigation chief John Lord’s departure for TLT last month (22 October 2013).

Hayes said: “I am looking forward to growing market share for the employment team, particularly in the London market, both through existing relationships and new business development opportunities.”