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Law: Briefs

FOUR LAWYERS - almost a third of the firm's assistant solicitors - have left BM Birnberg & Co, the law firm of which the partners Benedict Birnberg and Gareth Peirce have acted in many high-profile miscarriage of justice cases, including the Derek Bentley and Guildford Four cases. The four lawyers - Raju Bhatt, Fiona Murphy, Mark Scott and Simon Creighton - have set up their own firm, called Bhatt Murphy, which specialises in complaints and litigation against the police and prison authorities, inquests and prisoners' rights in general.

Mr Bhatt said that the four had already worked as a team at Birnberg, and, as equal partners in the new firm, "are a smaller and tighter outfit, who want to continue our work with people who fall victim to abuse of power within the criminal justice system".

Benedict Birnberg said that the firm still had nine assistant solicitors and that the move was amicable, adding: "This sort of thing happens in solicitors' firms, particularly in view of the meltdown happening with legal aid."

EVERSHEDS, THE national law firm is believed to be in talks with Bristol law firm Veale Wasbrough. If the talks are successful, it will be Eversheds' fourth major merger in the last 18 months. It has taken over the Newcastle firm, Wilkinson Maughan, half of the City firm, Frere Cholmeley Bischoff, and the Cambridge firm, Palmer Wheeldon. Eversheds is also planning an office in Scotland.

MILLS & REEVE, the East Anglian law firm, has taken over niche healthcare firm The Lewington Partnership. The move makes Mills & Reeve one of the country's largest healthcare practices, with more than 75 lawyers specialising in that area.#