Paisner partners take the US dollar

Two top corporate partners are poised to leave Paisner & Co, just a month before the firm merges with Berwin Leighton.

Stephen Nelson, who has been a partner at Paisner since 1986, and fellow corporate partner Paul Lewis are in discussions with their firm about the departure. Lewis has been a partner at Paisners since 1996.

It is understood that the pair are not signing the partnership agreement for Berwin Leighton Paisner, which comes into effect on 1 May, and they are believed to be joining the London office of Cleveland firm Squire Sanders & Dempsey.

Both partners have a focus on M&A in corporate recovery situations, but they also deal in banking, international finance and insolvency.

Their departures are the first from either Berwin Leighton or Paisner, since the two firms agreed to merge last month (The Lawyer, 5 March). The pair have a fairly self-contained practice, which is separate from the rest of the corporate team, and sources describe their hire as a coup for Squire Sanders.

Squire Sanders declined to comment on the new arrivals, and both partners were unavailable to comment.

Squire Sanders has already started a hiring spree this year with the recruitment of Richards Butler corporate partner Martin Walsh last month. He joins a team of English lawyers in the office. Squire Sanders also launched into English law in 1999, when it hired a team of cross-border M&A specialists from Clyde & Co, led by partner Cathy Horton.

Berwin Leighton Paisner will come into being on 1 May and will boast 116 partners with a fee-earner corporate practice of 150.

In the last year, Paisners has suffered the loss of its head of employment Stephen Levinson, who, after 21 years of partnership left for KLegal. It also lost e-commerce partner Laurence Kaye who moved to Garretts.