The long-running talks about a merger between City firm SJ Berwin and American firm Proskauer Rose have been called off. It had been worried that the talks were unsettling partners, some of whom are thought to have been unhappy about the tie-up. The firm said that it would still consider an American merger next year. Meanwhile, the London-based firm announced that its half-year profits were 34 percent higher than for the same period last year.

Lawyers are seven times more likely to have been educated at public school than the general population, says a new survey. Recruitment consultant Laurence Simons questioned 50,000 City lawyers via LinkedIn and found that 15 per cent of lawyers went to public school, compared to 2 per cent of the population. It also said that the number of Magic Circle partners educated at private schools increased from 59 per cent to 71 per cent between 1988 and 2004.

DLA Piper has announced another round of job-losses in its US practice, as part of what it calls a “right-sizing” process. Thirty-two support staff will be let go. It follows the giant British firm laying off over 100 lawyers in several rounds of redundancies in 2009. Although American operations are not yet recovered from the recession, with income down by 14 per cent in 2009, the firm’s numbers in the UK are starting to look positive again, and it recently announced an 8.5 per cent increase in revenues for the first half of 2010.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that civil funding is to be withdrawn from large numbers of cases, most notably family disputes, which should save the MoJ £178m from the current legal aid spend of £2.1bn. The changes are expected to mean that 500,000 fewer civil cases are brought to court each year. The MoJ is also looking at alternative funding routes, including recovering part of damages awarded in successful cases. The MoJ will cut spending by 23 per cent as part of the comprehensive spending review.