Fairley will join the Bristol-based firm in September as a partner and co-head of the nine-lawyer environmental law unit.
He will also take charge of developing Burges Salmon’s practice in the growing renewable energy sector.
Fairley, who has spent the past 13 years at A&O, said: “Magic circle firms are doing more international work. Burges Salmon presented the opportunity to pursue a more UK-based approach.”
In the past year, Fairley advised on the high-profile £300m financing of RWE Innogy’s UK wind farm portfolio and on the restructuring of the Drax Power Station.
The appointment is a boon for Burges Salmon’s environmental law practice, which already counts the Ministry of Defence, Phelps Dodge and UK Nirex as clients and marks a rare lateral hire at the firm.
Last year saw the arrival of former Bevan Ashford construction partner Will Gard and Pinsents head of competition Andrij Jurkiw.
Co-head of the environmental law unit Ian Salter said: “Our aim is to be the firm of choice for environmental matters nationally.”