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Morgan Cole's highly-rated head of energy Paul Dillon has resigned, threatening the firm's relationship with BP Amoco.
Dillon handed in his resignation last Wednesday (4 July) and partners have been told he is understood to be in discussions with a number of other law firms. His principal client is BP, which now uses Morgan Cole for its general commercial work, while its main magic circle corporate firm is Linklaters & Alliance. Dillon was BP's principal contact at Morgan Cole since joining four years ago from Bird & Bird, doing major pieces of litigation and arbitration work for the client. Peter Bevan, BP group general counsel, said: "It won't damage our relationship with Morgan Cole because we use it for a range of matters other than just litigation. Vis-à-vis Paul, it would be dependent on where he goes to." Dillon has built up a team at Morgan Cole which has become one of the firm's main strategic focuses. The firm has gone through a transition process in the past few years and has decided that its four main focuses should be energy, insurance, technology and construction. Dillon was unavailable for comment as The Lawyer went to press. The group's head of downstream Oliver Drennan will now take over the helm of the energy practice, which also includes head of upstream work Geoff Hewitt and head of property and environmental work Stephen Room. Hewitt was one of Dillon's biggest hires, and was previously the director and head of legal at Saga Petroleum (The Lawyer, 14 June 1999). Drennan said: "Along with other members of the energy sector practice, Paul has made a significant contribution to building the high profile that Morgan Cole now has in this sector. Paul has not yet indicated where his future plans lie, but we wish him every success in whatever path he may choose." Drennan denied that the future of the relationship with BP was at risk. He said: "I'm sure it will continue to go from strength to strength. The BP relationship is very much a Morgan Cole one and not one that is related to any particular individual."