Linklaters & Paines has had one of its high flying litigation partners poached by Pinsent Curtis to manage its London office.
Graeme Brister, 41, has been chosen by Pinsents' to succeed Paul Downing who joined Price Waterhouse last month.
The move is understood to have surprised Linklaters. Brister had been with the firm 17 years and led its banking and financial services litigation group.
But Linklaters senior partner Charles Allen-Jones put a brave face on what he said was the "right move" for Brister.
"He has broader management aspirations than we have been able to satisfy," he said, claiming Brister had wanted the managing partner job won by Terence Kyle last year.
This was denied by Brister. "I never wanted that job, but I did want to develop my career with more of a management role and Pinsent Curtis came along via a headhunter." He plans to double the size of Pinsents 16-partner City practice.
Pinsents senior partner Julian Tonks said: "This is a very clear signal of our determination to maintain the success of our London office."