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Slaughter and May's agreement to cede its Paris office to best friend Bredin Prat has caused an irrevocable split, with two partners set to quit before the swap takes effect.
Tax partner Pierre-Pascal Bruneau will join the Paris office of Debevoise & Plimpton along with two associates, while corporate finance partner Antoine-Audoin Maggiar has also revealed plans to leave, although his destination is not yet known.
The departures come just days after Slaughters announced on 14 December that it had reached an agreement with Bredin Prat for the firm to take on the majority of its eight-partner Paris presence by April 2006.
However, Bruneau's and Maggiar's departures will leave just four partners available to move across to the French independent. This is because Slaughters will maintain a representative English law practice in Paris, led by corporate finance partners Alexander Blackburn and Andrew McClean.
Slaughters senior partner Tim Clark claimed that "no other partners" would be leaving and that the firm had received tremendous support for its agreement with Bredin Prat.
He said Bruneau had been "enormously supportive" of the agreement, but had decided to join Debevoise for personal reasons, while Maggiar had "decided to take a different step in his career".
Maggiar suffered a significant blow during the Paris Bar Council elections last month when he came fifteenth in the second and final round of elections. Bruneau's hire will bolster US firm Debevoise's Paris presence to six partners.
Bredin Prat, Bruneau and Maggiar were unavailable for comment.