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What do you do when your global chief decides to join one of your biggest clients? Wail? Rejoice? Make a cup of coffee?
That’s the situation US giant Shearman & Sterling finds itself in this morning after senior partner Rohan Weerasinghe quit yesterday to join one of its biggest clients, Citigroup, as general counsel, as exclusively revealed by The Lawyer.
Wall Street rivals might have let out a brief cheer on reading the news, but the reality is that the 61-year-old is probably going to make the firm’s longstanding ties with the bank even more solid than they already were.
At least that’s how Shearman is spinning it. London head Nick Buckworth described Weerasinghe’s move as a “great way for us to continue to maintain that relationship”, which is not surprising given the New York partner’s decades-long friendship with Citi CEO Vikram Pandit.
None of this is entirely new: Clifford Chance took a good step towards shoring up its ties with Citi when former senior partner Stuart Popham joined the bank, his old client, last year.
And with a survey by The Lawyer this week showing that nearly 70 per cent of private practice solicitors would consider an in-house move, Weerasinghe’s plunge simply confirms the trend.