SJ Berwin lawyers in resignation mystery

Four lawyers have resigned from SJ Berwin's trademark and designs group before the group's planned move to Field Fisher Waterhouse.

The Lawyer revealed on 22 March that the trademark group was moving to Field Fisher.

At the time, John Olsen, the partner who heads the group, said the entire 15-strong group, including his team of four lawyers, would go to Field Fisher.

But in a bizarre twist, it emerges that two of the lawyers, Robert Furneaux and Martin Halsall, left SJ Berwin in January.

David Varney has joined non-law trademark firm Markforce, while David Kelly is not moving to Field Fisher either and his plans are unknown.

Barbara Cookson, head of the patent and trademark group at Field Fisher, will not comment on why Olsen claimed he was taking the lawyers. But she says: “I can understand why you are bemused.”

Cookson says that the lawyers looked for work elsewhere because they were “kept in the dark” during talks between the firms.

“Once SJ Berwin had made a decision not to support the group, all four of those people put themselves on the market. They had no idea about John's plans to join us, because the exit agreement was being delicately negotiated,” she says.