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Debevoise & Plimpton has poached leading arbitration lawyer Arthur Marriott QC, and two of his assistants, from the London office of rival US firm Wilmer Cutler & Pickering.
Marriott is to set up an arbitration unit at his new firm, which, until now, has been referring its international arbitration work to its Paris office or bringing in New York partners to handle it.
Marriott made history earlier this year when he was one of the first two solicitor advocates to be awarded silk.
David Rivkin, who heads the Debevoise New York arbitration practice, described Marriott as "one of the leading solicitors involved in international arbitration".
He said: "I have known Arthur for years. We began talking before he was named a QC about merging our practice. The fact that he was named a QC simply confirmed the high regard we had for him."
The firm's managing partner, Barry Bryan, said that the move "reflects our firm's overall strategic commitment to our international practice, and to London in particular".
Andrew Parnell, managing partner of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, expressed regret at Marriott's departure but said that the firm would continue to practise and expand its international arbitration work.
"Arthur has been with us now for 10 years and we have been honoured and happy to have him as a partner. I cannot speculate on his reasons for leaving, apart from the fact that he saw a particular set of opportunities," he said.
Marriott joined Debevoise & Plimpton last week and is the fourth partner at the firm's London office. The two assistants who are joining the firm with him are Neil Midgley and Dominic Roughton.