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Energy specialist Gary Campbell has left top US energy firm Vinson & Elkins to join City firm Sinclair Roche & Temperley, known mainly for its shipping work. It reverses the usual trend of top UK lawyers heading for the London offices of US firms.
Campbell was made a partner on his move to the company and commercial department of Sinclair Roche's London office.
Industry sources say Sinclair Roche plans to make a leap into the energy sector on the back of its shipping practice.
Jeff Morgan, managing partner of Sinclair Roche, says Campbell will be a valuable asset to the firm's energy practice.
"Energy sector clients are becoming increasingly important to all our offices and Gary's appointment will enable us to provide them with an enhanced service," says Morgan.
Although Campbell declines to say why he quit the top US energy firm, he says: "Sinclair Roche & Temperley advises a broad range of clients in the energy sector, and through its international and associated offices, provides energy clients world-wide with quality legal services. The firm is well placed to capture new opportunities in all areas of the energy sector."
John LaMaster, a partner at Vinson & Elkins' London office, says: "We enjoyed working with Gary and wish him well in his new endeavours. We look forward to working with him in the energy sector in future."
LaMaster says the London office is expanding aggressively, although no specific targets have been set. Vinson & Elkins came first in a Petroleum Economist survey of energy executives in July, beating Allen & Overy, Linklaters & Alliance, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Denton Hall and Slaughter and May.
"Our London office has grown from five lawyers to 14 since the beginning of the year," says LaMaster.
Vinson & Elkins has poached associates from Denton Hall, Allen & Overy and Wilde Sapte this year. Partner Christopher Clement-Davies joined from Wilde Sapte. A further three partner transferred from Vinson & Elkins' Dallas, Moscow and Beijing offices to London. Marc Hammerson is set to join from Denton Hall this week.
The Vinson & Elkins client list includes global power company Enron, California-based oil company Unocal and Finish company Fortum Oil & Gas, which all have a London base.
Campbell's practice focuses mainly on upstream work, involving exploration, extraction and the development of oil and gas. His practice also includes gas to power projects in Asia Pacific and central and eastern Europe.