The London office of US firm Chadbourne & Parke has lured a second partner from City firm Ashurst Morris Crisp in the space of six months.

Project finance expert Martyn Stewart-Smith starts this week as a partner with the US firm. He specialises in utilities law covering public sector restructuring, having acted for numerous developers of independent power projects.

Rigdon Boykin, head of Chadbourne & Parke project finance group, said the addition of Stewart-Smith to the firm represented “another step in the globalisation of our project finance practice”.

Stewart-Smith joined Ashursts in 1995 after a stint at the World Bank in Washington. He began his career at Clifford Chance.

Stewart-Smith follows in the footsteps of Ian Johnson who left Ashursts in November last year. Johnson, an energy expert, is no longer in London having left earlier this year to head the US firm's new Singapore branch.

Chadbourne & Parke created a splash in May last year when it advertised three jobs for project finance lawyers with salaries of £700,000, the highest ever to be publicly offered for a British lawyer.

A spokeswoman for Ashursts said that “no big hole had been created by Stewart-Smith's departure” because there were 30 to 40 people the firm could use from across the practice to work in project finance. She added that the loss of two partners was not a huge blow to the firm, saying “it takes more than two people to make a practice”.

She commented that Chadbourne & Parke would be likely to pay “over the odds” to establish themselves in areas where it does not have strength or depth. However, she added that she doubted that either of the two ex-Ashursts men were being paid £700,000.