Thompsons does Woolf cull U-turn

Leading personal injury firm Thompsons has promoted four partners to equity status, just eight months after culling 11 partners in preparation for the Woolf reforms.

The firm asked for the resignation of a fifth of its partnership in March this year, saying an internal Woolf group had concluded the firm's employment structure was top-heavy.

But the firm now says the additions to the partnership are due to new opportunities that have arisen from the same reforms.

Senior managing partner Geoff Shears says: “Inviting these four exceptional candidates to join the equity partnership is a reflection of our confidence in the opportunities the Woolf changes and the Community Legal Service offer the firm.”

The four new recruits bring the number of partners in the firm to 49 equity and 16 salaried.

The new equity partners – all previously salaried partners with the firm – are personal injury partners Rachel Tetzlaff-Sarfas and Keith Taylor in London and Stephen Jones from Stoke, and pensions partner Ivan Walker in London.

Equity partner Tom Jones, who led the internal Woolf group which recommended the cuts, says the new promotions are not a climbdown by the firm.

“We had something like 55 equity partners when we made the reductions and we now have 49.

“We don't consider that we are top-heavy at this level, and we have promoted people who deserve to be equity partners.

“Other firms are probably still absorbing the implications of the Woolf reforms, while we are now in the position that we have responded to them and are able to continue in the light of our positive experience of them.

“Others will probably have to go through the process that we went through at the beginning of the year at some point.”