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Linklaters' London head of intellectual property (IP) Anna Carboni is set to leave the firm to join Wilberforce Chambers.
The move will come as a blow to Linklaters' IP business, which in line with a number of other practice groups has been undergoing a shake-up in strategy and headcount.
Last November, The Lawyer reported that two IP partners, Tom Hope and Robin Whaite, were leaving the firm. Their destinations are still unknown.
Carboni's departure will leave the London team with five partners. She will be replaced by patent litigation specialist Nigel Jones, who will relocate from Cologne.
Carboni dismissed suggestions that her departure would weaken the trademark side of the practice. "The group's equally split across the trademark and patents practices," she said.
A trademark specialist who qualified as a solicitor-advocate three years ago, Carboni has been with Linklaters throughout her entire career.
"I've done some advocacy in the High Court since I became a solicitor-advocate, but it's very difficult to combine that with being a partner in a busy practice like Linklaters, managing teams and client relationships," she said. "It's basically now or never, and I'll always regret it if I don't do it."
Carboni is the first to leave the magic circle for the Bar since Linklaters litigation partner Andrew Henshaw joined Brick Court in 2000.
The move represents an ambitious push by Wilber-force, which according to The Lawyer's Bar Top 30, last year posted a turnover of £17m and its average revenue per barrister figures topped those of magic circle sets One Essex Court and Essex Court at £460,000. In September last year the set announced new senior management following the departure of chambers director Suzanne Cosgrave the previous May, with senior clerk Declan Redmond assuming the additional role of chief executive.
"Although she'll be called to the Bar in 2003, we'll have her on the board from when she qualified as a solicitor. So she'll be a senior junior in IP," said Redmond.