CC loses two partners to SJ Berwin and BLP

Clifford Chance has lost two partners in the space of a week to mid-sized rivals.

High-profile investment funds partner Peter McGowan has announced his departure for Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), while corporate partner Laura O’Neill is leaving the magic circle firm to join SJ Berwin.

McGowan – regarded for his experience in funds structuring and outsourcing – is a significant boost for BLP’s funds practice as the firm looks to develop a full-service funds capability and enhance its US investment banking client base. While at Clifford Chance McGowan advised US banks, including Citibank and the Bank of New York.

The appointment brings to seven the number of funds partners at BLP.

Meanwhile, SJ Berwin is continuing its growth in M&A with the hire of O’Neill. A partner at Clifford Chance since 2002, O’Neill was part of the team advising Banco Santander on its acquisition of Abbey National. She has also advised Volvo and Accenture.

The hire comes as SJ Berwin ramps up its corporate practice, which has put in a strong performance in the last year, securing instructions from a raft of new clients, including Associated British Foods, ACP Publishing, Hicks Muse and Macquarie Bank.

O’Neill’s hire brings to 22 the number of corporate partners in SJ Berwin’s London office and follows last year’s hire of private equity specialist Tim Wright, also from Clifford Chance.