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Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft - the New York firm which has just set up a London derivatives practice - has lost the head of its US derivatives practice to Shearman & Sterling.
Holland West, who led the derivatives and asset management practices at Cadwaladers for four years, has put his move down to the fact he wanted the back-up of a larger firm with a more comprehensive international presence.
He will lead a core group of nine senior lawyers whose expertise cuts across the firm's capital markets, structured finance, securities and bank regulatory, tax and bankruptcy practices.
Mitchell Sonkin, from Cadwaladers' management committee, agreed that West had an excellent reputation in securities and said that the move was amicable.
He added that although there were no plans to replace him, West's departure was offset by its successful hiring of four partners from the City to staff its new London venture, which will be headed by Clifford Chance's Andrew Wilkinson.
Sonkin said Cadwaladers' London office will have 15 lawyers by the time it opens in September with a target of 25 UK qualified lawyers soon after that.
He added that the firm was currently recruiting assistants, but was still considering "several more partner-level candidates from a number of prominent law firms".