Ashurst Morris Crisp’s managing partner is stepping down to return to the firm’s property unit as three lawyers leave the department.
Ian Nisse is due to rejoin the property department in September, before an election to choose a new managing partner to take up the position on 1 October.
But the property group has been hit with departures – equity partner Charles Leach, senior assistant Andrew Lewry and assistant Simon Colvin have all decided to leave.
Lewry is joining Andersen Legal as a partner in its commercial property department, while Leach, who has been with Ashursts for 13 years, is taking time off before deciding his next move.
It is understood that Colvin is changing his practice area from property to IT and is due to join Masons.
Ashursts head of property Simon Cookson says that there are two reasons for the continuing departures. “Cyclically every few years you will get a number of senior people and our approach is to be honest and say not everyone will be a partner and make people aware of what the opportunities are.”
He adds that other departures can be attributed the firm’s focus on large real estate work rather than traditional low return areas like conveyancing.
Commenting on Lewry’s departure, property partner David Albert says: “We are very sorry to lose him but this is an outstanding career move for him and we wish him all the best.”
Nisse’s return to property signifies a positive move for the department which has sustained a number of losses since the end of last year.
In November, the firm lost a number of assistants including highly-rated planning lawyer Iain Gilbey, who left to join Shoosmiths.
Earlier this year, five more lawyers left, including Stephen Law who joined former colleague Peter Lloyd, now the head of property at US firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey.
During his tenure as managing partner, Nisse has overseen the firm’s expansion in Germany, Italy and New York.
However, he failed to secure a transatlantic merger with West Coast firm Latham & Watkins, after negotiations fell through in June due to cultural differences.
Nisse was unavailable for comment.