The high profile divorce lawyer Helen Ward has upped sticks after 18 years at Manches to join Stewarts Law, along with seven other members of her team.

Ward has represented the likes of Guy Ritchie and Bernie Ecclestone, and is probably the biggest name in family law after "Iron Begonia" Fiona Shackleton. So her departure, along with four associates and three others, is seen as a serious blow to Manches which also lost three of its star litigation partners to Stewarts back in 2009.

    The Manches family team yesterday

Family and private client work brings in 39% of Manches' revenue and is also its most profitable practice. And the loss of Ward follows a tricky few years. Between 2006 and 2009 the firm managed to lose six department heads and turnover fell year on year to a five year low of £30.6m in 2011. In July the CEO who had been hired to fix the firm's problems, Judit Petho, quit after just 18 months. And her predecessor Alexandrina Le Clezio managed just six months in the job. Then there was the £7m overdraft taken on in 2010, the 2011 round of redundancies and a real estate associate prosecuted for pilfering £60k.

A spokeswoman for Manches said "Helen Ward is leaving Manches in November. Helen has made a significant contribution to our firm and out family department since she joined 18 years ago".

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Anonymous 21 September 12 20:57

What planet are you living on ? Missed!!!!.....I don't think so...ask any of her former assistants. She is not a pleasant partner to work for....nuff said!

Anonymous 22 September 12 11:30

Hmmm....her "many" former assistants....retention of associates was never her strong point....a clever and ruthless lawyer though.

Anonymous 23 September 12 10:13

What is the deal with this move? It is not the end of Family Law (or even Manches family department ) as we know it. A lawyer with a bus pass moved from one form to another - so what? In spite of the well-oiled publicity machines which sprang into action ( check out Stewarts would think that Jordan was joining them), the press releases etc, this move has received zero coverage in the broadsheets or the tabloids. When the Iron Begonia/Steel Magnolia moved it was front page news in the Times - an achievement given that PHB does not have a marketing department and that the (not so rusty ) Baroness is notoriously shy of publicity. Any journalist will tell you, lawyers, and not PR agents, make their own news , but only when there is a "story".

Anonymous 27 September 12 22:23

Whilst I agree that there is not much room for sentiment in a law firm, any partner of a modern firm is under an obligation to support, nurture and foster talent amongst his or her associates. I believe that it may have been the unusually high turnover of associates in Ward's team which hastened her departure. I understand that three of her team have moved to work with Rebecca Cockcroft, Louise Spitz and James Stewart, three excellent and extremely busy family partners who enjoy the love and respect their associates. Let's not confuse sentiment with respect and kindness!