SJ Berwin, Travers eye Omega as Abingworth counsel switches

SJ Berwin and Travers Smith are likely to be the biggest winners after venture capital group Omega Fund Management poached Abingworth Management’s general counsel Claire Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, who is also founder of the Private Equity Lawyers Forum, will join Omega, which specialises in secondary transactions within life sciences, as general counsel after three and a half years at Abingworth.

The move is positive news for SJ Berwin and Travers, as Wilkinson’s new role at Omega will include responsibility for selecting the fund’s external legal advisers.

Wilkinson has favoured the two firms while at Abingworth. She said there were no plans to compile a formal panel for Omega, but she was likely to continue instructing SJ Berwin and Travers in her new position.

Omega has historically instructed Proskauer Rose in the US, but has appointed Macfarlanes to assist with its establishment and expansion in the UK.

Wilkinson told The Lawyer that the move to Omega offered greater responsibility, as she would be assisting with the establishment of a London office.

“I’ve deliberately decided to take a legal title, but it will be a much broader role,” she said. The role will include company secretary, investor relations and fundraising, as well as compliance and legal issues.

Wilkinson is still negotiating her exit date from Abingworth, but is understood to have begun serving out a three-month notice period.

Abingworth is looking to recruit a replacement. In the meantime, the group’s assistant company secretary Alex Asquith will oversee Wilkinson’s duties.