Barlow Lyde & Gilbert's ambitions continue with triple corporate hire

City firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert is continuing its policy of aggressive expansion in the corporate department as it takes on two new partners and a senior assistant.

Rajita Sharma joins from Hammond Suddards Edge in Birmingham where she was head of intellectual property (IP) and media. She has vast experience of IP in commercial transactions.

Corporate lawyer Robert Lyons, a senior associate at Mayer Brown & Platt, will join as a partner. He will handle M&A work including acquisitions, takeovers, equity issues and join ventures.

Finance lawyer Neale Downes is also joining. He joins as a senior associate from Beachcroft Wansbroughs, where he is a partner. He has experience in acquisition finance, syndicated lending, structured finance and other forms of asset-backed and receivables financing.

The move follows Barlow Lyde's announcement that it is recruiting an IT team to set up an office in Oxford (The Lawyer, 19 February).

Sharma will work closely with the Oxford office when it opens in May to expand its IT practice to include the biotech and engineering industries.

Barlow Lyde's head of corporate David Strang says: “We realised that there was a risk of big corporate firms taking away our corporate litigation work if we didn't build our corporate practice. Barlows will never lose its core specialisms in litigation and insurance but the corporate department will add another wing to the practice.”

He says that focus on IT and IP developed because of client demands. “PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young are two of our clients and they asked us to do a lot of IT and consultancy work,” he says.

Barlow Lyde has been steadily expanding its corporate practice and it will have grown from 14 partners this time last year to 20 partners by May.

Strang says the firm aims to double the size of the department within the next 18 months.