Digests

Freshfields' Paris office is advising DaimlerChrysler Aerospace in the German company's agreed merger with France's Aerospatiale-Matra, creating Europe's largest aircraft company. Paris firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier is main adviser for Aerospatiale-Matra's largest share holder, Lagardere, with Clifford Chance advising on the UK aspects of the deal. Rogers & Wells is instructing on US antitrust law issues.

Garretts, the legal arm of accountancy group Arthur Andersen, has lost its Leeds head of banking to local commercial firm Walker Morris. Ian Akitt has joined Walker Morris as a partner in its banking and insolvency group and brings the firm's team of non-contentious banking lawyers to 13.

Freshfields has poached senior asset finance partner Bob Charlton from Clifford Chance. His respected rolling stock and aircraft practice had stalled at CC, and he joins Freshfields' four-partner asset finance practice in a move seen as marking the end of the no-poaching agreement between the leading City firms.

Maclay Murray & Spens has dissolved its dedicated pensions unit after the Scottish firm lost section head Andrew Fleming to Richards Butler. Fleming will join the pensions and investment practice of Richards Butler in London, with Maclay Murray & Spens establishing a new combined unit to handle employment, pensions and benefits.

Patterson Belknapp Webb & Tyler, the New York firm, is the latest US firm to consider pulling out of Moscow. The firm has not made a final decision, but sole partner in Moscow Peter Pettibone is believed to be preparing to move to another US or UK firm in the city before 2000.

Arnheim Tite & Lewis, the PricewaterhouseCoopers captive firm, is changing its name to Landwell as part of the rebranding of PwC's 20-firm network. The name will be adopted formally in the next few months by all the firms operating under the umbrella of a Swiss-based limited liability partnership.

Russell Jones & Walker has poached an associate from Midlands firm Challinors Lyon Clark as head of its clinical negligence department in Birmingham. Louise Hunt is a member of the Law Society medical negligence panel. She will not be a partner at Russell Jones & Walker.

Weightmans, the Liverpool firm, is investing £1m in Microsoft IT systems in its Manchester, central and west Birmingham, and Leicester offices. Technology partner David Morgan says: “All users have email and internet access, while our intranet is proving essential in dealing with Woolf related issues.”

Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, the Pittsburgh-based firm, is to merge with Virginia firm Hazel & Thomas to create a 600-lawyer practice in the US top 25 by size. The Lawyer exclusively revealed earlier this month (4 October) that Reed Smith Shaw & McClay is to become the first US firm to open in Birmingham.

Davies Arnold Cooper has taken on the former legal manager of Powergen to boost its construction and energy department. Michael Crookes, who left Powergen in 1994, returns to DAC as an associate after three years during which he set up his own legal and management consultancy before joining Field Fisher Waterhouse on a short-term contract.