The loss of Cassels, who was last year promoted to global litigation chief overseeing 700 lawyers, is a reverse for Bakers and follows the departure of its New York litigation head Douglas Tween to Linklaters last week.
Cassels, one of Bakers’ highest billers in London, joins a partner in the firm’s dispute resolution practice.
The move is a highly unusual London lateral hire for Linklaters but comes at a period in which the City giant has been intent on bolstering its historically under-weight contentious practice to compete with dispute leaders such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills.
Cassels follows several prominent litigators moving to the Magic Circle firm in recent years. Banking litigator Christa Band left Herbert Smith in 2009 for Linklaters and has become a senior figure at the firm, having been part of an 12-strong partnership board that this month selected Gideon Moore as the firm’s next managing partner. HSF arbitration partner Matthew Weiniger QC made the same switch in July this year.
Cassels is known for his work advising the BBC Trust on the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal and the broadcaster’s investigation into sex abuse allegations against radio presenter Stuart Hall. Other clients include energy major Shell, mobile operator Three and Formula 1 racing team McLaren Mercedes. He leaves Bakers after 21 years.
He is the third lateral hire by Linklaters in the past week, with Tween’s arrival in New York followed with the arrival of Margot Schonholtz from Willkie Farr & Gallagher to head its restructuring and insolvency practice in Manhattan.