Hammond Suddards is plugging the gap left by February's defection of Andrew Knight to Manches & Co by recruiting City high-flyer Gwen Griffiths, who joins from Stephenson Harwood.

Griffiths will take on Knight's former role as head of banking and will work closely with other City lawyers recruited recently by Hammonds. They include derivatives specialist Iona Levine, who joined from banking group HSBC, and Christopher Haan, a corporate tax expert from SJ Berwin.

The new recruits have joined Hammonds at a time when the firm has been hit by a number of high-profile resignations.

Chris Arnheim left to set up Price Waterhouse's new law firm, banking partner Nigel Dale joined Eversheds in Manchester and Richard Kemp upped sticks for Garrett & Co.

But a spokesman for Hammonds said the practice had more than made up the lost numbers and had been recruiting across the board, especially in the fast-growing corproate finance department.

Insiders at the firm said the recruitment of Griffiths was a real coup. One said: “She is a big ticket player who will definitely bring in new business. She is very well connected.”

Head of corporate at Hammonds Noel Hutton said: “The recruitment of Gwen Griffiths underlines our commitment to strenghtening our financial services and banking practice.”

Griffiths recently worked on advising the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group on its role in arranging a £100 million syndicated loan facility for Industrial Development Bank of India.

Stephensons senior partner David Slade said: “We are sorry to lose her. It was clearly a career move on her part.”