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Robert Palache, managing partner of Clifford Chance's burgeoning 60-partner finance practice, is leaving to become a director and joint head of securitisations at Japanese investment bank Nomura's Principal Finance Group.
Palache, who has been with Clifford Chance since 1980, and managing partner of its finance practice since 1996, will give up legal practice when he joins Nomura on 1 December this year.
He said that the move, was "a perfect one" for him.
"I did not relish the prospect of ending my career, never having changed jobs, and this is a great opportunity," he said.
"The kind of work you do as a lawyer is not totally dissimilar to an investment banker's skills, so my legal skills will be relevant."
Clifford Chance is one of the firms Nomura instructs and Palache said he planned to review the finance group's law firm panel.
"The starting point is to consider the all-round service firms, such as Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, and Freshfields," he said.
"A client needs to use a small group of firms so it knows it is important to all of them, rather than just using one firm exclusively, which can lead to complacency."
Commenting on his move Allen & Overy securitisation partner Mark Raines said: "Many securitisation lawyers are frustrated investment bankers. Palache is one of the brightest minds and a market leader, and he has commercial sense and a great sense of showmanship - he will bring a lot to the party."
Another securitisation lawyer commented that there was no obvious successor to Palache at Clifford Chance.
Clifford Chance is yet to decide on his successor.