At least four Clyde & Co partners have resigned in protest at the suspension and resignation of a fellow partner.
In July the firm suspended Ed Mills-Webb, a partner who was enjoying a meteoric rise in the firm's shipping team and who is understood to have been one of its biggest billers. He and an associate were suspected of potentially breaching accounting rules.
This week Mills-Webb resigned with immediate effect as the internal investigation drew to a close. But at least four other shipping partners, including prominent figures within Clyde & Co and the tightly-knit shipping law market, suddenly resigned as well. Andrew Preston (who joined Clydes in 1994 and trained Mills-Webb), Elizabeth Turnbull (co-chair of the firm’s Latin American strategy committee), and Fanos Theophani and Rob Collins all announced that they would be leaving to set up a new boutique firm with Mills-Webb called Preston Turnbull.
Collins told Legal Business, "It will be a marine trade, commercial litigation boutique firm and a lot of detail is still up in the air as far as that’s concerned."
One of the pesky airborne details is the Solicitors Regulation Authority's current interest in Mills-Webb. Clyde & Co reported him to the SRA for the same reasons it suspended him. His partners at Preston Turnbull will be expecting the SRA to conclude that there was no wrongdoing and drop its investigation. They resigned from Clyde & Co in a show of solidarity with Mills-Webb, multiple sources said, because they believed the firm had treated him poorly. A source close to Clyde & Co management said the firm did not believe its former star partner had been mistreated.
Footage of Clyde & Co partners
Neither Mills-Webb, Preston or Turnbull responded to repeated requests for comment.
A spokesman for Clyde & Co said, “Earlier this year we suspended two solicitors and referred them to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority of England & Wales in relation to matters concerning the application of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. We continue to assist the SRA fully with their investigations. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage." The associate remains suspended, RollOnFriday understands, and Clyde & Co's investigation into them is ongoing.
The spokesman added, "We can confirm that Ed Mills-Webb, previously a partner at the firm, has resigned with immediate effect".