Updated at 3:57 p.m.
Following 17 years at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, veteran corporate lawyer John "Jay" Watkins has left the firm for Wiley Rein in Washington.
Watkins joins Wiley Rein as a partner in the corporate practice, the firm announced Monday. He previously was a partner in the corporate practice of Wilmer, which he joined in 1996.
Watkins said it was a "difficult decision" to leave Wilmer. But he said he was impressed with Wiley Rein's corporate practice.
At Wiley Rein, Watkins will focus on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity, among other matters. He worked on similar issues at Wilmer for defense, technology and health care companies. His clients at the firm included radio ratings company Arbitron Inc. (now Nielsen Audio) and private equity firm Camden Partners, which has education, health care and business services investments.
"We are confident that our clients will benefit immediately from his M&A experience and solid track record of guiding companies through complex transactions," Wiley Rein chairman Richard Wiley said in a written statement.