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Pinsent Curtis' London head of employment is leaving for a magic circle firm.
Karen Seward will join Allen & Overy after a two-month gardening leave.
Allen & Overy's employment department has nine fee-earners and is recognised as a leading practice in the City. Thomson Travel, Warburg Dillon Read and Pitney Bowes are all clients of the firm.
The appointment is a coup for the firm, as Seward is regarded as an up-and-coming figure in the area.
National practice head of employment John McMullen confirms the departure.
He says: "She is leaving to go to Allen & Overy with our good wishes and thanks for her contribution to our growing London office."
She joined Pinsents as a partner three years ago from Stephenson Harwood, which she had been with since 1994. Her remit was to build the London employment group. McMullen says: "She leaves it in good shape."
McMullen refuses to be drawn further on her departure. But it is understood that Seward has left the national practice because she wants to join a magic circle firm.
Employment partner Robert Mecrate-Butcher will take over Seward's role on a temporary basis.
Pinsents' national employment group has 28 lawyers, with seven based in the London office. But sources close to the firm say the team will expand soon.
The national practice has offices in London, Birmingham and Leeds. Its employment group is one of the largest in the UK. Clients of the London office include Barclays Bank, Lombard North Central and Thistle Hotels.
It is not yet known whether Seward will take any team members or clients with her.