US merger sees Withers as LLP

Leading private client City firm Withers has converted from a partnership to a limited liability practice (LLP) in the wake of its merger with US firm Bergman Horowitz & Reynolds.

In a break with tradition, Withers, which acted for the Duchess of York in her divorce with Prince Andrew and counts many of the world’s wealthiest individuals among its clients, has joined the tiny band of UK law firms to have embraced the recently-created limited liability partnership.

The professional equivalent of a private limited company, LLPs impose a much greater burden on firms in terms of full disclosure of the type of sensitive financial information lawyers usually like to keep quiet. However, LLP status does remove the risk of unlimited liability that partners in non-LLP firms face.

Withers took the plunge at the beginning of December and merged with US private client specialist Bergman Horowitz in a deal that Withers senior partner Diana Parker called “too good an opportunity to miss”.

Technology specialist Kemp Little was the first UK firm to go for UK limited liability, but few have followed in the firm’s footsteps.

Clifford Chance also became an LLP following its US merger, but the firm is limited under US rather than UK law.