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Norton Rose has allowed competition partner Trevor Soames to cut short his gardening leave in order to join his new firm Howrey Simon Arnold & White
Soames announced his intention to defect to Howreys last October to head the firm’s Brussels office. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Norton Rose could have prevented Soames from working for another firm until June. However, following the intervention of Howreys’ managing partner Bob Bruyak, who negotiated personally with Norton Rose managing partner Roger Birkby, early release was secured for Soames. Soames has been at Howreys’ Brussels office since the beginning of April, providing a major boost for the US firm. Howreys hopes to be fully staffed by September and Soames will be primarily responsible for the recruitment of lawyers. Bruyak also agreed an early departure for Geert Goeteyn, a Norton Rose senior associate from Soames’ team who will join Howreys as a partner. A spokesperson from Norton Rose said: “Since Trevor’s departure, we’ve been in discussions with him and with Howreys as to a mutually convenient date for him to formally leave Norton Rose and start at Howreys. This has now been agreed and we look forward to the continuation of our historically excellent working relationship with Howreys.” The loss of Soames was a blow to Norton Rose, but the subsequent and unrelated defection of the firm’s entire acquisition finance team to Allen & Overy could only have put further strain on the negotiations. It is understood that Howreys will continue to refer work to Norton Rose in areas where it has no capacity in Europe, such as corporate, tax and employment, so it was in the interests of both firms to retain a positive working relationship.