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US firm Dorsey & Whitney has poached top corporate specialist John Byrne from Nabarro Nathanson the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the West End firm since it was restructured at the beginning of 1997.
Over the last year Nabarros has lost a number of senior partners including the heads of its construction and insurance departments, Martin Bridgewater and Jennifer Donohue.
Bridgewater and Donohue left shortly after the restructuring, which saw the number of departments at the firm reduced from 14 to four.
Byrne said that he was head-hunted as part of a drive by the US firm to double its English law capacity within the next 12 months.
According to Byrne, a changing client-base was the logic behind his move. He stressed that he left Nabarros on good terms.
Byrne said that having been heavily involved in the British Coal privatisation he joined Nabarros eight years ago with the British Coal in-house team he had over the last two years begun to act for an increasing number of US clients.
Byrne's arrival brings the number of English-qualified lawyers based at Dorsey & Whitney's London office to nine.
Peter Kohl, head of the US firm's London office, said: "This expansion provides us with a much greater capacity to serve our American clients in Britain and throughout Europe."
Byrne has taken six-year qualified assistant Andrew Rimmington with him and has also been reunited at Dorsey & Whitney with ex-Nabarros tax specialist Elaine Littlefield, who has defected from Rawlinson & Butler.
Both Rimmington and Littlefield have been appointed "of counsel", the US equivalent of a senior assistant.