THE SOUTHAMPTON office of London firm Boodle Hatfield has defected en masse to Plymouth-based Bond Pearce.
Boodle Hatfield sold the office along with 16 lawyers earlier this month.
Just one Southampton lawyer, an agricultural property specialist, stayed on board, moving to Boodle Hatfield's new Oxford office.
The firm has put a brave face on the loss of the office which specialised in company commercial, commercial property and commercial litigation.
Managing partner Edward Sutherland said: "There had been a feeling amongst the Southampton partners that they would like to be associated with one of the larger regional practices and it so happened that Bond Pearce were particularly interested in expanding along the south coast.
"We would probably have wanted to have kept Southampton but it did not fit in with our plans for continued expansion in Oxford."
Moray MacPherson, one of the four former Boodles Southampton partners, said: "We thought it was the best thing for our office and London, to give them credit, was realistic about the position. We never relied to any extent on work coming form London, it was the other way round."
Bond Pearce boosted its new office with three partners specialising in banking, insurance and insolvency. It now has 43 partners in Plymouth, Exeter and Southampton.
Senior partner Jonathan Trafford said: "The combined resources of the three offices ensures access to one of the most broad-based commercial practices in southern England."