Leading south-east firm Cripps Harries Hall has taken on the company secretary of Wates Group, one of the biggest privately owned property groups in the country.
William Mackie, who has been the lead legal counsel at the group since 1994, is joining the firm as a partner.
Mackie has been at Wates for 14 years, during which time he has been involved in residential and commercial property development, construction contracts, PFI projects and residential land bank management.
Mackie says that he decided to go to Cripps because the firm has clients worthy of London firms.
He says: "I was attracted to the firm by both the calibre of its people and its portfolio of blue chip property sector clients. The work it handles for these clients includes complex and high-profile projects, and in the past such work was undertaken almost exclusively by the property law firms in London."
Cripps' property clients include Berkeley Homes, Brighton & Hove Council, Persimmon Homes and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The firm's managing partner Jonathan Denny says: "At a time when commercial property lawyers are so sought after we are delighted Bill chose to join us.
"His wide-ranging knowledge and first-hand experience of all aspects of residential development, commercial property and construction law will prove invaluable.
"I feel sure that those at the top level in our property clients' companies will welcome having access to Bill's advice."
Before joining Wates, Mackie worked at Broseley Estates and for the Civil Aviation Authority.
The commercial property department at Cripps now has eight partners and seven other solicitors, making it one of the largest teams in the south east.