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Pinsent Curtis has poached top partner Hugo Stephens and his team from Irwin Mitchell in a major boost to its projects group department. Stephens and his team of five will join the firm’s Major Projects Group later this year. It is the Britsh firm’s second high-profile hiring, along with the appointment of Simon Ramshaw, former managing partner of Edge Ellison, to head up its pensions division. Last year, the Irwin Mitchell team completed more large scale voluntary transfers than any other British firm, except niche practice Trowers & Hamlins. Stephens is one of the United Kingdom’s leading legal advisers in the housing field and an acknowledged expert in banking law. He has worked in areas such as public private partnership projects and private finance initiative work. Cameron Woodrow, head of major projects at Pinsents, says: “Hugo’s name and reputation go before him. He and his colleagues will be a tremendous addition to our team.” The move is a blow to Irwin Mitchell, which will lose part of its public law team. But Howard Culley, managing partner, claims the firm will continue to develop its expertise in this area: “The public sector team at Irwin Mitchell is very busy with project work and will continue to grow.” A date for the departure of Stephens and his team is currently being discussed. Pinsents has also hired a forensic accountant for a brand new department in its Leeds office — following in the footsteps of giant Clifford Chance. The move will see the firm venturing into a new practice area, which it hopes will speed up the work in its litigation department when the forensic division starts next month. Tony Chapman, finance director of manufacturing company Sarnatech Bnl — a long-standing client of the firm, will be heading up the forensic department and is considering recruiting for the division.

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