Osborne Clarke is poaching HSBC's number two in-house counsel as part of a drive to set up a network of banking departments in its Bristol, London and Reading offices.
Jeremy Cross is leaving HSBC Holdings' headquarters in Hong Kong to run Osborne Clarke's new banking department in its Bristol office, which he joins as a partner.
Margaret Childs, currently Osborne Clarke's only banking partner, tells The Lawyer: "Jeremy has a breadth of high-level banking experience that will help us to win new clients."
HSBC is not a client of Osborne Clarke, but Childs says: "We would be hopeful of opening discussions with HSBC."
Cross is on secondment in Hong Kong from the bank's London office. He joins the firm in January 2000 alongside Hugh Jones, head of banking at Morgan Cole, who has also been poached to start work in Osborne Clarke's Bristol banking department next month (The Lawyer, 19 July).
Childs says: "The two lateral hires are part of a policy of expansion in our banking capacity."
Childs is quitting the firm later this month to spend time with her family. Cross will replace her, and managing partner Leslie Perrin says two partners are being sought for the firm's City office, which currently has no banking capacity.
Partners at rival practices are being approached to fill the roles of banking head and banking partner in London. Childs says: "We have been talking to a couple of senior people at City firms."
When the vacancies are filled, a nationwide network of banking departments will be officially launched.
Property partner Nadine Strahl and insolvency partner Patrick Cook will move to banking departments. Strahl will work from London and Bristol, while Cook will be based in Bristol.
Childs says: "There will soon be another partner hire. When this happens we will split from the corporate department to start a banking practice. Within the next three months it will go from one banking partner to five."
Cross says: "The firm has a good idea where it's going and I am delighted to take on the role."