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McGowan's transaction-focused tax practice will bolster ;Sullivan's ;UK corporate practice, which received a shot in the arm two years ago with the hire of Allen & Overy (A&O) M&A partner Vanessa Blackmore. ;Corporate partner Tim Emmerson also joined last year from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.
Emmerson commented: "McGowan is really going to work as part of our corporate and finance effort here. He's a perfect fit for us in that respect and he brings a self-standing practice as well.
"I think the push came some time ago and this hire is part of the development of the European corporate and finance practices."
Meanwhile, McGowan is the third partner to leave Shearman's ;European practice in the past four months: Paris arbitration partner Christophe Dugué left for Mayer Brown, while A&O snapped up the firm's co-head of M&A Hans Rolf Koerfer in Düsseldorf.
This month Shearman appointed ;acquisition finance lawyer Anthony Ward as London managing partner, to take over from Kenneth MacRitchie, who stepped down after six years in the position.
When McGowan starts at Sullivan in May, it will not be the first time he has set foot in the firm's offices. He was a visiting lawyer in the tax group in 1993.
Emmerson said: "He's been here before. He knows the firm and understands the culture here."