Linklaters & Alliance's Madrid office is taking on two partners from Spain's largest law firm Garrigues & Andersen, in a move believed to be the first of its kind.
Alvaro Sainz, a leading M&A and corporate specialist with a strong domestic and international client following, will join corporate partners Antonio Sanchez-Pedreno and Miles Curley to develop the corporate practice.
And Alejendro Ortiz will join finance partners Ignacio Santillan, Inigo Berricano and Lee Parker to expand Linklaters' hold in the securities and finance market.
The firm is also taking on three new associates.
Linklaters' Madrid managing partner Miles Curley says the firm is "over the moon" to have recruited five quality lawyers.
"The move is causing quite a stir as it is the first time that two partners have moved together in the Spanish market," he says.
The Spanish market is relatively underdeveloped compared with Germany and France.
Although a small number of firms have control of the market this is beginning to change as a result of various mergers.
Linklaters has had a presence in Madrid since early last year and the arrival of Sainz and Ortiz will increase the number of partners to six.
Growth is at the heart of Linklaters' strategy in Spain. "We have a leading practice in every jurisdiction and we have come to the conclusion that we need to build a practice here that matches our practices in other jurisdictions.
"This is just the start. We've now got a very strong corporate and finance team. We're bringing in the specialists and now we will continue to increase the numbers. Our next target will be tax and real estate," he says.
SJ Berwin's Spanish managing partner Carlos Pazos agrees that the move is significant. "I knew that Linklaters was struggling to build up a team. Top local lawyers with good English are not easy to find.
"It will be very difficult for other UK and US firms to find appropriate teams," he says.
Garrigues & Andersen was created when Authur Andersen's Spanish legal arm, Arthur Andersen ALT, merged with top Spanish law firm A&J Garrigues in 1997.
According to a survey in Spanish business newspaper Expancion, it is the number one firm in Spain. It has both the highest revenues and the most partners (The Lawyer, 22 May).
Linklaters' Madrid office acted for Morgan Stanley on the IPO of shares in Spanish press and broadcasting group Prisa. It also acted for Scottish Provident Institution on the sale of its wholly owned Spanish subsidiary British Life to Norwich Union.
Other clients include Burberry Limited, Jazz Telecom SA, Reed Elsevier and National Power.