US firm Dechert Price & Rhoads, which is allied to Titmuss Sainer Dechert, has poached six lawyers from the securities practice of Mcguire Woods Battle & Boothe in Washington DC.
The move was led by Wallace Timmeny, senior securities partner at Mcguires and ex-deputy director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Enforcement, who took his team with him.
"We left one securities lawyer behind and took all our clients with us," said Timmeny.
He added: "I realise that Mcguires is not too happy with the move, but in the last few years, people have been moving a lot between firms in the US so even though it may be seen as untraditional in fact it is not that uncommon."
A spokeswoman for McGuires said that it was usual for clients and members of a team to follow a senior lawyer in a move. She added: "We have 200 lawyers involved in securities work in one way or another so this in no way represents a disaster."
Timmeny said his team's move was part of a trend in the US where specialised practices went to firms which were very well managed.
He added that Decherts' investment company and mutual fund management practices "will provide the support my team and clients require".
But he also acknowledged that there was an "old boys' network" of ex-Securities and Exchange Commission people at the firm where several ex-colleagues and old friends were working.
Further growth is planned for Decherts' Washington office, which has just recruited banking specialist Murray A Indick from the Washington office of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering.
Timmeny said he was in charge of recruiting further securities lawyers from other firms and that talks were being held with several respected lawyers.
Dechert, together with Titmuss Sainer Dechert in London, has an international practice approaching 500 lawyers.