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Norton Rose has put one of its most senior partners, Douglas Colliver, on gardening leave after hearing that he was jumping ship to US firm Dewey Ballantine.
Colliver, a pivotal player in the firm's international securities unit, is widely regarded as one of Norton Rose's top partners. He headed the firm's banking group for a number of years before moving to capital markets to set up its international securities department, which now has four partners including him.
One Norton Rose insider said: "He has a very big reputation in the firm and he's very well known to a number of Norton Rose clients." The source added: "It will be a loss, particularly as he's going to an American firm."
Norton Rose senior partner David Lewis said: "His departure has been entirely amicable and we wish him well in his new role at Dewey Ballantine.
"He's taking on an elder statesman role in the banking department there - a role he wants to end his career with. He hasn't got a senior management role here."
Dewey banking partner Moni Mannings said that Colliver would be actively involved in client development in central European countries and in London, though she stressed that he would be a transactional lawyer as well.
"We regard the strength and depth of his expertise as an exciting addition to our finance practice," added Mannings.
Colliver will remain a partner with Norton Rose until 1 May when his gardening leave comes to an end.