Bristol-based Osborne Clarke has raided Clarke Willmott for a four-lawyer property team led by property development star David Powell.

Accompanying Powell, who will head up Osborne Clarke’s residential redevelopment group, are partners Karen Wallis and Jamie Kyd, and associate Michelle McGurl.

Powell who headed Clarke Willmott’s residential development team had been considered one of the firm’s star partners and sat on the management board.

The raid bolsters Osborne Clarke’s property group, which is headed by partner Nadine Strahl, to 84 lawyers.

It is also a sign of ambition at the South West player, which reported an 18 per cent increase in average profit per equity partner (PEP) last financial year from £360,000 in 2004-05 to £425,000 in 2005-06. However, this is still shy of the new £500,000 PEP benchmark for mid-tier firms.

Osborne Clarke’s managing partner Simon Beswick said: “Any property developments outside London are almost always mixed use developments, comprising commercial, retail and residential.

“We have the commercial and the retail people on board, but until David’s team joined us, we didn’t have the residential [capability].”

The loss is a blow to Clarke Willmott’s real estate ambitions. The firm’s Birmingham real estate team was boosted with the hire of Hammonds’ property finance director Jane Kemp last month.

Kemp joined Clarke Willmott as a partner. She left Hammonds two years after joining from property developer Castlemore.