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Another BLG partner defects as RPC launches Singapore office

Mark Errington has become the latest partner to defect from London-headquartered law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG) on the eve of its effective takeover by Clyde & Co.

Having previously led BLG's insurance and reinsurance practice in Singapore, Errington will be joining the new Singapore office of City firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain (RPC).

RPC managing partner Jonathan Watmough explained the move was part of the firm's strategy to expand overseas.

"We have been looking for some time for the right opportunity to grow our presence outside the UK to enable us to continue to deliver excellent service to our clients, where they want it. Singapore is one of a number of locations we have been considering given its importance as an insurance hub for Asia," he said.

London-based law firms have been under increasing pressure to compete on a global scale since the announcement of the Clyde-BLG tie-up.

The deal is set to become the largest ever UK legal tie-up when it completes tomorrow (1 November). Billed as a merger, Clyde & Co is very much the dominant party, retaining its name and senior lawyers where there is overlap.

One casualty is thought to be Clive O'Connell, head of BLG's commercial risk and reinsurance team, who will not be joining Clyde.

Furthermore, some BLG fee-earners and partners have decided to leave even though they have been offered new posts in the expanded organisation (see table).

One of the reasons cited by defectors has been the terms handed down where partners are locked in for a three-year period, with financial penalties for leaving earlier.

Furthermore, one partner at a City law firm told The Insurance Insider that the tie-up had created a "window of opportunity" for BLG partners to leave without giving the 12-month notice period typically required.

BLG's difficulties were compounded after its well-regarded aviation team left in March just as the firm appeared to be emerging from a period of underperformance.

Its tie-up with Clyde has surprised some market watchers, due to Clyde's recent focus on expanding overseas rather than in the UK.

However, BLG still retains well-regarded expertise in professional negligence, employment, healthcare and casualty as well as a profitable volume claims office in Manchester that launched in 2009 and expanded a year later through a purchase from Halliwells.

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