Planning law hires and transfers

The January transfer market

2019 was another busy year for moves in the planning sector.  It is always a challenging area to recruit into, with the main challenge being the small number of teams leading to fewer applicants for the available roles that are out there.  The result of this is that any moves within private practice, in-house or public sector can often have a knock-on effect. This has been especially evident with some potentially seismic moves at partner level.  Below are some of the key senior appointments from 2019.

Town Legal – They were particularly busy with the hire of Duncan Field (Norton Rose Fulbright), Louise Samuel (Linklaters) and Michael Gallimore (Hogan Lovells).  Their expertise already adds to a huge wealth of talent at the practice as the firm seeks to challenge the conventional multi-disciplinary approach to planning law.

Pinsent Masons – Hired Lucy Thomas from Ashurst who is primarily based in the Birmingham office.  This was a key hire for them as they continue to invest nationally as well as in London.  Jamie Lockerbie was promoted to Partner in London having joined the Planning & Environment team in 2011.

BDB Pitmans – Hired Richard Marsh from Eversheds and announced a relocation to Farringdon as they continue to work on leading infrastructure mandates.

Ashurst – Having moved offices in 2019, Ashurst announced in December 2019 that Claire Dutch was joining them after 20 years with Hogan Lovells.  This is an interesting appointment and can be seen as a statement of intent for 2020.

Hogan Lovells – With the loss of Michael Gallimore to Town Legal and Claire Dutch to Ashurst, Hogan Lovells moved swiftly to appoint Hannah Quarterman as a Partner early in 2020.

Lewis Silkin – Announced that Sara Hanrahan is to join as a Partner from Blake Morgan

CMS – Internally promoted Rebecca Roffe to the partnership in Sheffield.

Norton Rose Fulbright – Sarah Fitzpatrick joined from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner – BCLP internally promoted Giles Pink to Partner from January 2020.

Shoosmiths – Have had a busy year in planning appointing Karen Howard in London from DLA and David Mathias in Manchester.  This gives them a network of planning lawyers down the spine of the UK.

Irwin Mitchell – Have had a busy year appointing Claire Petricca-Riding in Manchester from Brabners and internally promoting Nicola Gooch in West Sussex.

Brabners – Replaced Claire by appointing Sophie Stewart from DLA to lead their North-West Planning & Environment team.

Thrings – Internally promoted Rosalyn Trotman to Partner in Bristol.

Clarke Willmott – Hired Jo Bainton in Bristol from Sidley Austin.

I believe that the number of Partner moves in 2019 demonstrates a healthy market and a commitment to invest in the sector in the long term.  It may also be an indication that some are looking to future proof their careers with firms that share similar long-term visions.  Although there have been fewer senior moves in areas such as Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds this does not mean that the appetite to hire isn’t there.  These areas have been some of the busiest for Associate hires over the last couple of years and the demand is as strong as ever in 2020.  I predict that demand for Planning Lawyers at all levels will continue through 2020.  The increase in opportunities also means firms continue to look at more creative ways to attract lawyers.  Quality of work will always feature very highly but increasingly flexible working and alternative career paths are becoming more of a feature as firms look to continue to attract talent in the planning sector.



Stuart Phillips – Managing Consultant – Origin Legal Ltd

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Stuart Phillips
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Stuart Phillips

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