Rowe & Maw loses star player to Macfarlanes

Leading London construction lawyer Tony Blackler has joined Macfarlanes from Rowe & Maw, to help the firm build up a construction practice.

At the same time Barlow Lyde & Gilbert's construction head, Robert Oakes, has been recruited by Manches & Co for the same purpose.

Blackler's departure comes as a blow to Rowe & Maw as he had headed its four-partner construction group, which is seen as one of the best in London. But it is understood that Blackler, who started at Macfarlanes at the beginning of April, had become disaffected at the firm where he had been a partner for 25 years.

Macfarlanes partner Charles Martin said that until now the firm had not had a full-time construction partner, but 'we have an increasing amount of construction work mainly as a result of our property development practice.'

Blacker is only the second partner Macfarlanes has hired from outside the firm. In August last year, it recruited Norton Rose's head of competition John Cook.

Blackler said: 'I have known these people [at Macfarlanes] for many years. These chums wanted me to spearhead their construction work. They have a very substantial client base, which you need for this sort of expertise. Hopefully I can help them move on a notch.'

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert's Oakes was head of construction at the firm for five years. He has joined Manches to work on contentious and non-contentious construction. Neither he nor Barlows would comment on the reason for his move.

It is understood that Manches has not, until now, had a full-time construction partner, although Oakes stressed that it had been doing an increasing amount of international construction work.

Barlows partner Kevin Perry has moved across from the commercial litigation department to replace Oakes as head of construction. He said there were 10 lawyers in the construction group, including three partners.