Rees, a one-time chief executive candidate, is expected to join Debevoise by the end of April.
The dispute resolution specialist, who is particularly known for construction, engineering and energy disputes, will head the firm’s growing international arbitration team in London, reporting to global head David Rivkin.
The managing partner of Debevoise’s European operations Jim Kiernan said the firm was ecstatic Rees was joining.
“We think he’s going to be a wonderful addition,” said Kiernan. “Part of the whole strategy for Europe is to build on areas where we’re strong in the States. Litigation is very strong in New York and we are now strengthening it here with Peter in London and Fred Davis [a recent hire from Shearman & Sterling] in Paris.”
Rees is a born and bred Norton Rose lawyer and has been at the firm for 26 years. He stood down as global head of dispute resolution last year after nine years in the role. Three years ago he ran for chief executive, losing out to Peter Martyr.
The current head of dispute resolution James Bagge, who took over from Rees a year ago, said he was extremely sorry to see Rees go both on a personal and professional level.
“Peter is a very able and ambitious guy and I think after 26 years the reality is he ran out of challenges at Norton Rose,” he added.