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South east firm Argles Stoneham Burstows has recruited a leading commercial property partner from rival firm Donne Mileham & Haddock.
Michael Bailey was head of property at Donne Mileham and had been a partner at the firm for 15 years, based in the Brighton office.
Recognised as one of the top property lawyers in the UK, he was head of the department that acted on the relocation of Brighton Football Club's ground, and for the trust concerned with the Brighton Dome during the Brighton Festival.
He is the first high-profile lateral hire for Argles Stoneham Burstows since the three firms merged last November to form one of the top five practices in the south east .
The firm has 40 partners spread across five offices in Surrey, Sussex and Kent. Bailey joins as a partner in the firm's commercial property group, which has nine partners and 11 other fee earners.
He will be based in Croydon and will deal with new and existing clients across the region.
Bailey says: "The newly-merged firm is one of the key players in the south east region and is committed to building teams of experts who will be able to provide unrivalled service across the region."
Carol Fletcher, head of property at Argles Stoneham Burstow, says that the appointment of Bailey is the first in a number of recruitments, which it is hoped will move the firm into the premier league of commercial property.
"We expect Michael to continue taking on heavyweight commercial property work and really strengthen our team. Being the size that we now are enables us to attract high-level recruitment and there certainly is more planned," she says.
She says that due to the merger the new firm can take on regional rivals such as Cripps Harries Hall and Thomas Eggar Church Adams for property clients in the south east.
She says: "We are seeing clients who tell us that they no longer need to go to London firms and that we can service them countrywide. We certainly view ourselves as able to compete in the marketplace."