Anglo-German firm in shock U-turn as profits slide; IT departures imminent

Taylor Wessing is poised to abandon technology as a core practice area following the completion of a strategic review later in the year. The shift will result in the departure of more IT partners, following the three who have already quit the firm this year.

The stunning volte-face by one of the firms most closely associated with the dotcom and technology boom will begin less than a year after the merger between Taylor Joynson Garrett (TJG) and German firm Wessing was sealed.

One of the drivers for that deal was to capitalise on the two firms’ technology and intellectual property (IP) synergies. Technology was also one of the main planks of TJG’s practice, having built its reputation around its leading IP and IT focus. The news of its strategic shift, however, follows the firm’s poor results this year, which saw a 17 per cent drop in profits to £344,000 from £415,000.

Sources suggest that following the review’s conclusion, Taylor Wessing will focus on mainstream work such as corporate, property, litigation, finance and projects, while maintaining its bedrock practice area of IP. A firm brochure released last week neglected to list technology as a core area.

Heading the list of those believed to be seeking an exit is rated IT specialist Kiran Sandford. A number of other technology partners are also believed to be looking to leave. Earlier this year, three IT/IP partners – Nicola Andrews, Alistair Breward and Cambridge-based Simon Crossley – left the firm. Crossley joined the Cambridge office of US technology company Accelrys. Breward and Andrews left for lifestyle reasons.

Senior partner Richard Marsh confirmed that the firm was in the middle of a strategic review that was initiated at the beginning of 2003. He claimed that Taylor Wessing “had never been a pure technology firm” and that it had always been “full-service”. Marsh refused to comment on individual partners’ plans, and said that IT, “like the whole of our practice”, is under review.