Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) has lost loyalist and former managing partner Steven Blakeley to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Blakeley is set the leave the firm at the end of the month to take up a role as head of corporate at the US firm.
His departure is a symbolic blow, depriving DWS of one of its longest-serving and most loyal lawyers. Blakeley joined the legacy Wilde Sapte in 1980. In 1994 he became the firm's managing partner and saved it from imploding following the failed merger talks with Arthur Andersen. He imposed a partnership lock-in and then led Wilde Sapte into its merger with Denton Hall.
Following the formation of the new firm, Blakeley took up the role of deputy chief executive. Recent years have seen Blakeley assisting DWS through a tricky consolidation. He helped the firm through its divorce from its Denton International European alliance and managed its retreat from Asia.
He returned to fee-earning in 2004 and is currently a partner in DWS's corporate team, specialising in M&A, joint ventures and corporate transactional work.
Howard Morris, chief executive at DWS, told The Lawyer that the firm was very sorry to see Blakeley leave and that it wished him all the best for the future. Partners at DWS were informed of Blakeley's departure last week.
Akin Gump now has 10 partners in London and around 30 lawyers.