In a blow for the London ambitions of US firm Chadbourne & Parke, its sole UK-qualified partner in the capital has defected after only six months.
Martin Stewart-Smith, who moved from Ashurst Morris Crisp to Chadbournes in June as a partner in its project finance department, has left the firm to join Cameron McKenna's projects department.
Stewart-Smith said: "To practise English law, you have to have a team to build up a credible mass and, at Chadbournes, I recognised that it was going to take a long time to build up a team."
He added that Cameron McKenna offered broader practice opportunities in the projects area and that a number of friends had moved to the firm at the same time to work in the practice group. "A team ended up being assembled," he said.
Jerome Katz, a partner at Chadbournes' New York office, said: "We are disappointed that Martin left but we understand the decision."
But Katz added that his departure would not create a gap in the practice. He said: "Fortunately, we have great depth in project finance so we will be able to satisfy clients' needs with the people we have in London and abroad."
Chadbournes currently has five lawyers, mostly US qualified, in its London office with a sixth joining in the next few weeks.
Stewart-Smith was the second partner to leave Ashursts for Chadbournes this year. The other, Ian Johnson, joined Chadbournes at the start of the year to head its Singapore office.
Chadbournes made the headlines last year when it advertised for three UK projects partners offering salaries of up to £700,000.