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Rowe & Maw is losing its highly rated head of environmental law to Boodle Hatfield after 12 years at the firm.
Hugh Devas is planning to join Boodle Hatfield on 1 May as a partner specialising in property and environmental law. But he will remain a consultant at his former firm for the next two years.
Devas says: "The two firms do not compete and I am not perceived to be taking clients with me so I can still be useful to Rowe & Maw."
Tim Manning, head of property at Boodle Hatfield, does not think Devas' links to Rowe & Maw will create problems.
He says: "I suppose he has the experience of working with [the firm's] clients and will work with them until they find a replacement."
Devas says he joined Boodle Hatfield because its environmental law department is closely affiliated with its property department, as opposed to Rowe & Maw where it is housed under the corporate umbrella.
Devas previously worked in Rowe & Maw's property department, but in 1994 the firm placed the environmental department under the corporate umbrella.
He says: "A substantial amount of the firm's revenue comes from corporate support.
"I wanted to combine property with environment since my background is officially in property. I hoped to run it out of planning but I think the planning lawyers [at Rowe & Maw] would not have been happy about that."
Rowe & Maw is the second City firm to lose a highly rated environmental partner in the last two months. In December Herbert Smith lost Richard Brock, a planning partner who also headed the firm's environmental department, to Cambridge-based Mills & Reeve.