Brown & Wood snaps up Simmons capital partner

Simmons & Simmons has lost another top partner, this time to US firm Brown & Wood.

Leading capital markets lawyer John Russell, who co-founded Simmons' securities practice, joins the London office of Brown & Wood today (Monday).

Russell is the eighth partner to leave Simmons this year and the third in two months.

In October, Richards Butler poached equity partner Gordon Stewart, one of the founders of Simmons' finance practice.

Senior telecoms partner Chris Watson also left last month, for Allen & Overy (The Lawyer 18 October).

In August, senior IT lawyer Paul Barton joined Field Fisher Waterhouse with his team, saying he was “disappointed” the technology group did not have more resources.

Russell is keen to stress his departure is amicable. He tells The Lawyer his move was prompted by a need to grow his practice area. He says: “I wanted to go to a firm where I can fully develop my securities work.

“Nobody in Europe has the same share of [this] work as Brown & Wood.”

He refuses to disclose whether he will take any Simmons' personnel with him. But he confirms he is prohibited from taking any clients.

Brown & Wood's London managing partner Chris Mead remains unfazed by Russell's partnership clause concerning clients. He says: “There is a restrictive covenant agreement that restricts [Russell] from soliciting Simmons & Simmons' clients but we have a significant client base.”

Russell's appointment is part of a major expansion plan of the US firm's London operation. The firm intends to increase the amount of partners in the capital from six to between 10 and 15.

Says Mead: “We currently have about 25 lawyers and would like in the very near term to have about 40. It is a bit early to say but we are talking to people.”

Russell, who was a full equity partner at Simmons, had been with the firm for nearly 12 years.

Brown & Wood approached Russell three years ago, but repeated the offer this summer.