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South East firm Argles Stoneham Burstows has lost its head of employment to the London office of Manches.
Jonathan Maude led a team of 11 employment lawyers at Argles Stoneham Burstows and was responsible for building a team at Stonehams prior to its merger with Argles & Court in 1999.
Maude is not planning to take any assistants with him to Manches.
The move boosts Manches' employment group to five partners, with seven other fee-earners. Two employment partners operate from the firm's Oxford office.
Senior partner and head of employment Alasdair Simpson says: "Our employment group has expanded beyond even our own expectations, and I'm confident that Jonathan will play a significant role in the next stage of the strategic development of the group."
Chief executive Alun Lamerton says the firm is hopeful that Maude will be bringing a number of clients with him.
Maude's departure leaves Argles with four employment partners.
Russell Bell, practice development partner at Argles, says: "We're obviously very disappointed to lose Jonathan. He was a very popular partner and a member of our strong employment team. On the other hand, he is going to a senior position in Manches as we understand it, so we understand his reasons for moving.
"We still have the strongest employment team in the South East and we're well able to cover our client base.
"What we've got to recognise is that now that we're a regional practice covering the whole of the South East, this kind of thing will happen occasionally. We're seen as a very strong player with talented lawyers."