Pinsents rebuilds insurance team after laying off four SIF partners

Tim Burton, the group head of legal at insurer Benfield, will take over as national head of insurance from Anson Game, who was made redundant along with the other three partners last December (The Lawyer, 17 December 2001).
The firm will also take on Stephenson Harwood insolvency partner Peter Fidler as a consultant this month. Fidler is a qualified insolvency practitioner, and will add a capability to the group that it currently lacks. Both will join the London office.
The Christmas redundancies, which also saw the loss of 11 assistants, were Pinsents' response to the demise of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF). The four partners who had to leave the firm, including Game, mainly did SIF-related work.
Pinsents has focused on specialist reinsurance and insurance work for the last five years and the new hires are an extension of this strategy, said managing partner David Ryan.
“The SIF practice was the main focus of the insurance and reinsurance department many years ago,” he said. “Part of the reason we've taken Tim on is to focus on specialist insurance and reinsurance industry work.”
Burton currently manages a 15-strong legal team at Benfield. Along with Ashurst Morris Crisp, which does the company's corporate work, Pinsents is already one of Benfield's main advisers. Burton anticipates that the client relationship will stay the same when he moves to Pinsents, although his role will differ.
Burton said: “Pinsents has a good relationship with Benfield, which, along with many other law firms, it would be looking to develop further, [although] I'm unsure which direction the relationship will take.
“I won't take the work I was doing as group general counsel to Pinsents, as the work you do as head of a legal team isn't work that can be outsourced. At Pinsents, I'll be doing mainly insurance litigation, with some non-contentious work also in the mix.”
Fidler, who adds a new insolvency capability to the group, currently enjoys strong relations with insolvency practitioners at accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers. In the past, he has advised on the Barings collapse, the insolvency aspects of the Maxwell pension fund and the the Paramount case.
The hires, said Ryan, are testament to the fact that Pinsents did not make the Christmas redundancies for recession-related reasons.
“There are still no plans for restructuring in any other part of the firm,” he stated.