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Nabarro Nathanson pension specialist Peter Ford is moving to Norton Rose with fellow partner Lesley Browning.
While the market view is that Nabarros' pension practice is significantly stronger than that of Norton Rose, the latter's current head of pensions Stuart Lippiatt believes the pair were attracted by the expansion opportunities. Also, when Lippiatt retires next year, it is predicted that Ford will step into his shoes as head of department.
Lippiatt has found capitalising on the potential of the department a struggle due to a lack of manpower. Part of the impetus behind growing the department is to handle the referral work from Norton Rose's 15-strong employment department.
Lippiatt says: "The pensions practice has grown over the years, but we were always looking for more people. I came from a strong corporate side but was not a known name in pensions."
Nabarros is discussing Ford's and Browning's departure date. It hopes to retain pension litigation clients such as the trustees of HF Pension Scheme and British Coal.
Spokesperson for Nabarros Robin Swinbank says: "We can confirm that Peter Ford and Lesley Browning have resigned from the partnership, but the dates need to be finalised."
Norton Rose has recently recruited Barnett Alexander Chart head of employment Peter Talibart (The Lawyer, 25 September). His expertise in PFI work will hopefully increase work for the pensions department.
Lippiatt says: "There's a lot of private finance initiative (PFI) work, and Peter has a niche in it. We're also involved in a significant number of cross-border transactions, but mostly we've seen a substantial increase in PFI work because of government pension requirements."
Norton Rose's pension department will now have three partners, two assistants and a trainee.