Bank of America has appointed Ford general counsel David Leitch as its legal boss, one month after he left the motor company, where he worked for a decade.

Leitch will replace Gary Lynch, who is retiring as global general counsel on 1 January but will remain vice chairman.

The search for Lynch’s replacement took much longer than expected, with the bank looking at external candidates for a number of months.

He headed up the bank’s legal team through the aftermath of the financial crisis having been hired to tackle legal claims tied to its 2008 acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corporation four years ago.

Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement: “Gary led our team in resolving the most complex and pressing legal issues our company has faced.

“We will continue to benefit from his seasoned judgment and sound guidance.”

Leitch joined Ford Motor Company in 2005 from his position as deputy counsel to George W Bush while he was US president. He was previously chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration and worked for the Justice Department.

He left Ford in October, having led it through much of its global restructuring in 2006. He has not yet been replaced.