Latham & Watkins has made an almost unheard of lateral hire from New York M&A powerhouse Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, securing corporate partner Barry Bryer for its New York office.

Bryer, a partner in Wacthell’s corporate department since 1980, was voted in to the Latham partnership some weeks ago, but is expected to join the firm on 1 July. The hire brings to 12 the number of partners in Latham’s New York M&A practice.

It is believed to be the first time that Wachtell, which last year posted average profit per partner of £1.58m and was the most profitable firm in The Lawyer Global 100, has lost a partner directly to a rival.

Charles Nathan, global co-chair of Latham’s M&A group, said: “Barry is an outstanding senior M&A lawyer, who will make a strong and positive contribution to our practice in New York.

The hire comes as Latham continues to beef up its M&A offering in New York. “The centre of gravity for public M&A in the US is in New York. We’ve been working on building New York in general, and in M&A in particular,” said Nathan.

The firm’s New York office now boasts more lawyers than any other office in the firm’s global network.

Wachtell did not return calls for comment.