Money can buy a lot of things – for some people it can even buy happiness. But US firms can’t seem to buy a decent real estate practice for love nor money.

There hasn’t been a high-profile move of a real estate lawyer to a US firm since Ian Nisse traded in his Ashurst badge for the stars and stripes of Shearman & Sterling back in October 2004.

The expected wave of real estate heavyweights chasing the greenback never materialised, but not for a want of trying. You can hardly meet a property lawyer these days without hearing how they turned down a guaranteed £1m a year for a move to a US real estate practice.

But isn’t billing some 3,000 hours and being a corporate support practice worth the money? Certainly Nisse must have thought so.

We just hope Alan Samson, who jumped early to Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, was able to cash in as well.Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every Wednesday by subscribing to Lawyer News Weekly.