Cameron McKenna has lured away the head of Denton Hall's Asian operations to be senior partner of Cameron McKenna in Asia.
Christopher Clarke, former regional senior partner at Denton Hall, has just handed in his resignation to make the move.
His departure is a major blow to the Denton Hall team, which, according to rumours in the financial arena, has been looking to move for some time.
Clarke is considered to be one of the leading lawyers in his field. He has been managing partner of the Denton Hall Hong Kong office since 1978 and became the firm's senior partner in Asia in 1982.
Denton Hall's international managing partner David Moroney says he is very sorry to see Clarke go and that he had been a valuable partner.
"Although the Hong Kong office has suffered from the recession, it is now in fine fettle, we have plans to expand again, and in that - I guess - we are no different from Cameron McKenna," he says.
There is speculation that alleged discord in Denton Hall's Hong Kong office was one of the reasons behind the failed three-way merger between Denton Hall, Richards Butler and Theodore Goddards. Richards Butler is recognised as having an extremely strong practice in Hong Kong.
Moroney admits that the Denton Hall Hong Kong office was one of the rocks on which last year's merger talks foundered.
"The Richards Butler office was completely standalone, with very good profitability, as I understand it," says Moroney. "At the end of the day the merger talks ended for that and a number of other reasons."
However, he denies that there was any more unrest in the Hong Kong office than would be expected after an unsettling merger failure.
Cameron McKenna's Hong Kong operation currently has eight partners.
David Kidd, a senior partner in the Hong Kong office ,says: "Christopher Clarke is a well-known and very experienced Hong Kong lawyer. His arrival will add depth and diversity to our corporate, commercial and dispute resolution practices in the area."
Robert Derry-Evans, Cameron McKenna's managing partner, adds: "Christopher's appointment is a notable development for our Hong Kong office. His experience will be a tremendous help to us in exploiting the significant opportunities in Hong Kong and the region for a firm with our areas of specialisation."
Clarke will also oversee the firm's Beijing office, which was one of the first of its kind to be granted permission by the Chinese authorities to set up on the mainland.