LEGAL recruitment consultancy Quarry Dougall is to open a new department specialising in information technology personnel for law firms in a bid to get a share of this burgeoning sector.

The move coincides with a plan by legal recruitment specialist Longbridge Consultancy to expand its IT department and invest £175,000 on recruitment software.

In the last few months the heads of IT departments of five City firms – Cameron McKenna, Lovell White Durrant, Ashurst Morris Crisp, Nabarro Nathanson and Herbert Smith – have either changed jobs or are about to do so.

Recruitment consultants believe the moves are only the tip of the iceberg and that the expanding market for high quality IT legal personnel will lead to a boom in recruitment.

Paul Young, the director of Quarry Dougall's new technology department, said the team would be specialising in senior and middle management with salaries in the range of £35,000 to £80,000.

Young said: "We are just laying the foundations at the moment but hope to have 15 people in the department at the end of the year.

"We are already talking to clients and pursuing opportunities. The marketplace is expanding at a considerable rate, and IT is one of the most important markets in terms of expansion and probably has the farthest to go."

Longbridge is currently looking for larger premises, said managing consultant Craig Coverman. The company has four staff in its IT department and intends to double this within six months, he added.

Head of ZMB recruitment consultants Rod McKenzie agrees that the IT marketplace is buoyant.

The latest in a rash of recent moves in this sector sees the ex-head of IT at Cameron McKenna, Ed Dean, join Lovells this week, replacing Jeremy Harrington as head of IT.

Harrington, who left Lovells at the beginning of the year, has gone to the Bank of England.

Chief operations officer Nick Cray has been standing in as head of the 45-strong department. Cameron McKenna senior partner William Shelford said the firm was still looking to replace Dean.

Ashursts has also just recruited a new IT director. Kris Grabarczyk, currently IT director at Titmuss Sainer Dechert, is due to start at Ahshursts in November. He replaces David Lumsden who left in May.

Ashursts IT operations and communications manager John Pilka has also left the firm.

At Nabarros, IT director Graeme Lowe left the firm on 5 September to become IT director at Kidson Impey accountants. Nabarros has hired Lindsay Dean, IT director at Herbert Smith, who joins at the beginning of October.

Lowe oversaw Nabarros' £3m IT overhaul, which has taken two years and is due to be completed this week. Nabarros' IT revamp included the installation of the Elite accounts system, Windows 95 and a new document management system, PC DOCS.