Camerons reels as star insolvency partner quits

In a crushing blow for CMS Cameron McKenna, restructuring star Stephen Foster is resigning to join Lovells

The departure will undermine Camerons' capability in the sector following the departure of highly-rated London insolvency partner Dan Hamilton to White & Case last summer.

Lovells, on the other hand, has massively boosted its ability to compete for big international workouts and has finally found a high-profile partner to mitigate the loss of Nick Frome, who left for Clifford Chance in mid-2001.

Once regarded as one of the best insolvency and restructuring practices in the City, Camerons now has no recognised big-hitter. Other lawyers in the sector believe the loss will hit Camerons hard; one insider termed it “a significant blow”.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the firm's only other star, John White, who holds the key to Camerons' relationship with Lloyds TSB, is set to retire in three months. After his departure, the London team will have just three partners, down from six last year.

However, Camerons senior partner Dick Tyler played down the departure. He told The Lawyer: “It won't come as any surprise that the department operates as a team. The team has a strong reputation and that remains the case.”

For Lovells, the lateral will boost the firm's ability to compete in both the cross-border workout market and the traditional domestic insolvency and business restructuring market. As an added bonus, Foster brings with him a very strong relationship with the Royal Bank of Scotland and excellent links with the big four accounting firms.

Lovells head of business restructuring and insolvency Robin Spencer, a key figure in Foster's recruitment, said in a statement: “This is a good mo-ment to recruit a partner with Stephen's reputation. We've grown our practice significantly over the last two years.”

Lovells boosted its US restructuring capacity last year with hires in New York at senior associate level. The firm also added a senior associate in Amsterdam in a bid to achieve the global coverage now essential to attract the best international work.