Simon Jay, who has been at Travers Smith for 18 years, will join Clearys' corporate department in September after working his six-month notice period.
Commenting on his move, Jay says: “I have never worked anywhere else before and that was one of the driving forces behind the move.”
He denies says the move was prompted by the fact that Cleary Gottlieb has welcomed many other top UK lawyers recently.
“I was interested because it has a large and established European presence,” he says.
Glen Scarcliffe, corporate partner at Cleary Gottlieb, says: “We have been looking to strengthen our UK practice and Simon has great experience in mergers and acquisitions and corporate work.”
He says the firm's European reach was the main factor influencing Jay's choice: “There is a lot of opportunity for cross-border work.”
He adds: “Also, we have worked with Travers, and a number of colleagues have worked with Simon over the years – it is less risky to take on someone you know.”
Christopher Bell, head of corporate at Travers Smith, says that although the departure is amicable on both sides, the firm is always disappointed when someone leaves.
Bell would not be specific about replacing Jay, but he says: “We are always making up new partners within the firm.”
Scarcliffe says Jay's recruitment will be the last addition to the corporate department for the “foreseeable” future.
Meanwhile, Clearys has reduced its corporate department in the US to seven lawyers as partner Ward Greenberg joins its Frankfurt office.
German-speaking Greenberg will boost the US partner count in Frankfurt to three.