A new day has dawned for the legal department of HSBC Holdings Plc. Stuart Levey was appointed chief legal officer last Friday. He will be based in London and report to Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver.

Levey comes to the financial services firm after years of working for the U.S. government. He most recently served as the first under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence for the Treasury Department from July 2004 to February 2011. Additionally, he was principal associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, and spent 11 years in private practice prior to that.

While Levey’s appointment was effective immediately, he will work with the outgoing Group Managing Director and Group General Counsel Richard Bennett, who will remain on during a transition period until the end of 2012. Bennett will continue with HSBC as a part-time adviser to Gulliver after his retirement. Bennett has been with the company for 33 years.

“I am delighted Stuart is joining HSBC after a distinguished career in private practice and government service,” Gulliver said in a statement. “His experience dealing with international financial and legal issues is highly relevant to a global bank such as HSBC. I am also pleased Stuart will be able to draw on Richard’s extensive experience over the next few months, and that Richard has agreed to continue as an adviser to me after he retires.”