BLP continues magic circle hiring spree with addition of Linklaters partner

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has announced the hire of Linklaters real estate finance partner Claire Watson, making her the firm’s ninth lateral hire since the beginning of the year.

The announcement follows the news earlier this week that Alan Paul, one of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) most senior corporate partners, is set to join BLP as a senior consultant in May (24 April 2012). Paul’s hire closely followed that of former Linklaters global corporate head David Barnes, who joined BLP in February (27 February 2012).

Watson has been a partner at Linklaters since 1998 and her practice focuses on acting for banks, funds and corporates across the real estate finance sector in the UK and across Europe.

Key recent real estate finance deals for BLP include advising Royal Bank of Scotland on Project Isobel, a plan to offload a £1.6bn portfolio of UK property loans, as well as on the financing for Rontec Investments’ purchase of Total UK’s downstream business (30 January 2012).

The most recent hire also follows moves by BLP to bulk up its finance offering, including the recent hire of Ashurst partner Simon Small for its banking and capital markets group. Small also previously worked at Linklaters (14 November 2011).

In January A&O partner Andrei Baev joined BLP’s projects group, which is housed within the firm’s finance department (13 December 2011).

Commenting on Watson’s appointment, BLP finance head Matthew Kellett said: “Claire’s appointment extends the scope and breadth of expertise we can offer clients who are grappling with an increasingly complex real estate finance market.”

Watson added: “This is a significant move for me, the firm is both ambitious and innovative. In recent years I’ve watched BLP’s real estate finance team grow in capability and stature, and I’m looking forward to being part of that growth going forward.”

No date has been set for Watson joining BLP but it is understood that she will start working at the firm in the coming months.