Top capital markets partner Iona Levine left Hammonds at Christmas. At the time she did not know which firm she was going to join. Her four assistants were split up between other departments within Hammonds.
She says she was approached by Baker & McKenzie between Christmas and New Year with an offer to join them as head of derivatives in the London office. She takes up her new position next week.
Levine says she wanted to take her practice to a global firm. "The clients are global and demand a global service, as can be seen by the trend for all sorts of firms to link up around the world.
"Baker & McKenzie is really a truly global firm. They knew who I was and I knew who they were - so when they asked me to come and talk to them it was an offer that was too good to miss."
Levine was at Hammonds for four years, before which she was head of HSBC's global treasury and capital markets' legal team. Her derivatives practice at Hammonds was regarded as one of the leading in the country, with clients including Barclays Capital and Asahi Bank.
She refuses to comment on whether clients will be following her, but says: "Amongst all of my existing clients the move has been greeted very positively."
At Baker & McKenzie her practice will be part of the structured finance practice, which will have six partners and 15 fee-earners. The firm lost its head of derivatives Schuyler Henderson to Norton Rose in December.
Russell Lewin, managing partner at Bakers' London office says: "Derivatives is an important part of our structured finance practice across the firm and one in which we continue to invest."
A spokesperson for Hammond Suddards says: "The main core area of the financial services practice has never been derivatives and the four assistants have moved elsewhere in the department."