Olswang's former interim CEO opts against CMS-Nabarro merger to join Simmons

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Simmons & Simmons has recruited Olswang’s former interim CEO Michael Burdon as an intellectual property (IP) partner in London.

Burdon – who took charge of Olswang for a seven-month period following the surprise exit of former longstanding leader David Stewart in late 2014 – is head of the firm’s European patent litigation team and an elected board member.

He has been at Olswang since 2002, after joining as a partner from Eversheds.

He will join Simmons on 2 May, the day after Olswang’s three-way merger with CMS UK and Nabarro goes live on 1 May. It is understood that a client conflict was a key reason behind Burdon’s decision to opt against joining the merged firm.

His exit marks the third partner departure from Olswang’s IP practice since news of the merger broke last September. In November, Dentons recruited patent prosecution group co-chair Justin Hill, while life sciences co-head Stephen Reese joined Clifford Chance in October.

Burdon’s exit will leave Olswang with 14 IP partners in London and 19 globally, according to its website. The practice is led by London partner Joel Barry, who took over from Paul Stevens in 2015 when Stevens stepped up to take the CEO role at the firm, succeeding Burdon.

Simmons IP head Rowan Freeland said: “There are a number of key issues affecting clients today, including the arrival of the Unified Patent Court later this year. Michael is a highly skilled patent litigator and a really nice guy, and I look forward to working with him.”

Burdon added: “Simmons will provide a great home for my clients. I have admired the firm and the IP team a little enviously from afar. The next few years will be a very interesting time for patent litigation in Europe.”

The hire follows a spate of exits from Simmons’ IP practice. Last year, Allen & Overy recruited four Simmons IP partners in London, including Mark Heaney, David Stone, former London IP head Marc Doering and Marjan Noor.