More turmoil at Watson Burton as Leeds founder joins rival

Newcastle-based Dickinson Dees has hired corporate specialist Mark Warburton, a founding partner of Geordie rival Watson Burton‘s Leeds office.

Warburton joins Dickinsons’ York office on 1 May, which was opened officially in February following the December 2006 merger with Leeds-based corporate boutique Philip Ashworth & Co (The Lawyer, 11 December 2006).

His hire comes just after Watson Burton’s former senior partner Andrew Hoyle joined Tyneside arch-rival Ward Hadaway (The Lawyer, 16 April).

Warburton’s decision will be read as a sign of insecurity among some lawyers at Watson Burton’s offices in Leeds and London, after Hoyle was ejected from the partnership over objections to his expansion ambitions outside Newcastle (The Lawyer, 26 September 2006).

Dickinsons managing partner Neil Braithwaite said: “[Warburton’s] strong connections with the Leeds and Humberside business communities demonstrate our intention for our offering to reach across Yorkshire. We anticipate further senior recruitment to reflect our aim and ability to provide a full-service offering across Yorkshire.”

There has been an unusual amount of movement among Newcastle firms recently. Watson Burton hired real estate lawyer Barney Frith as a partner from Newcastle firm Robert Muckle, where he was also a partner, just last week.