Long-running negotiations have now concluded between Burges Salmon and Simmons & Simmons over the start date of funds partner Mahrie Webb, who in May became the City practice’s fourth hire to its low-cost Bristol office.
Simmons launched the South West base in September last year with the hire of financial services litigation partners Tim Boyce and Ed Crosse from Osborne Clarke.
However, Webb has yet to join and it is understood that Burges Salmon initially tried to hold the highly regarded funds lawyer to two years gardening leave but that figure has now been reduced to a year, with Webb expected to join Simmons in May.
While neither Simmons nor Burges Salmon would comment, the move is an indication of the way Simmons’ entry into the already competitive, overcrowded Bristol market is being viewed by the leading local firms.
Simmons’ Bristol office was set up to deliver efficiencies to clients and flexible service models and in theory is not in direct competition with local firms.
However, last October saw Simmons hire Burges Salmon banking partner Helen Hancock and speaking earlier to Legal Business one Simmons partner commented: ‘A lot of the Bristol firms think we’re competing in the Bristol market, which is not why we set it up.’
Attempts to enforce a notice period of this length are unusual. However in October it emerged that Field Fisher Waterhouse’s head of privacy, Eduardo Ustaran, is being held to a 19-month notice period before he can join Hogan Lovells.