Magic Circle poaching pact holds despite Shandro's move

The no-poaching agreement among the Magic Circle club of firms has held, despite the hiring of leading Clifford Chance insolvency partner Sandy Shandro by Freshfields.

Shandro is the first partner to have been laterally hired in London from one big five City firm to another. However, Clifford Chance managing partner Tony Williams denied that Shandro's departure would lead to a breakdown of the no-partner poaching agreement among the top eight City firms.

It is understood Shandro, who will join Freshfields at the beginning of March, had been keen to leave Clifford Chance for some months and that there was a personality clash with partner Ashley Booker who was appointed head of the insolvency practice last year.

Clifford Chance's insolvency team lost leading partner Andrew Wilkinson last year to rival firms. But Williams said the team was still strong with four partners and a number of assistants.

Freshfields' head of finance Simon Hall said when Wilkinson left Clifford Chance and Booker, a litigator, was put in charge of the practice “Sandy felt that it didn't seem the best way to develop the practice”.

Until now, Freshfields has not had a partner devoted solely to insolvency work and Hall said Shandro would be helping the firm build up an insolvency capacity ready for a downturn in the economy.

The move reflects similar moves by Linklaters and Herbert Smith who have both recruited insolvency partners in recent months.